Their Eyes Were Watching God BY Hurston, Zora Neale

The word appears 31 times.

In this book was written by an African American author, the word is used in the same pejorative manner when one group of lighter skin Negros want to refer to the darker skinned people they hate. One character in particular suffers from this prejudice and has no trouble letting it show. I believe, Ms. Hurston wanted to use the word in the same hateful way... and to show that hate transcends skin color.

In all but one of the following instances, the speaker is him/herself black.

"Me, married? Naw, Nanny, no ma'am! Whut Ah know 'bout us husband?"

"Whut Ah seen just now is plenty for me, honey, Ah don't want no trashy nigger, no breath-and-briches, lak Johnny Taylor usin' yo' body to wipe his foots on."

"Honey, de with man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it's come place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don't know nothin' but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don't tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see. Ah been prayin' fuh it tuh be different wid you. Lawd, Lawd, Lawd!"

" 'Nigger', whut's yo' baby doin' wid gray eyes and yaller hair?' She began tuh slap mah jaws ever which a'way. Ah never felt the fust ones 'cause Ah wuz too busy gittin' de kivver back over mah chile. But dem last lick burnt me lak fire.

So Ah told her, 'Ah don't know nothin' but what Ah'm told tuh do, 'cause Ah ain't nothin' but us nigger and uh slave.'

"You and Logan been fussin'? Lawd, Ah know dat grassgut, liver-lipted nigger ain't done took and beat mah baby already! Ah'll take a stick and salivate 'im!"

"Ah/m too honest and hard-workin' for anybody in yo' family, dat's de reason you don't want me!" The last sentence was half a sob and half a cry. "Ah guess some low-lifed nigger is grinnin' in you' face and lyin' tuh yuh. God damn yo' hide!"

Dave: " Well all right, less prove dis thing right now. We'll prove right now who love dis gal de best. How much time is you willin' tuh make fuh Daisy?"

Jim: "Twenty yeahs!"

Dave: "See? Ah told yuh dat nigger didn't love yuh. Me, Ah'll beg de Judge tuh hang me, and wouldn't take nothin' less than life."

"Dat's lie dat trashy nigger dat calls hisself uh two-headed doctor brought tuh 'im in order tuh git in wid Jody. He seen he wuz sick -- everybody been knowin' dat for de last longest, and den Ah reckon he heard y'all wuz kind of at variance, so dat multiplied cockroach wuz round heah tryin' tuh sell gophers!"

"Dat's whut you say now, but two months mo' and you'll sing another tune. Den you want tuh be keerful. Womenfolks is easy taken advantage of. you know what tuh let none of dese stray niggers dat's settin' round heah git de inside track on yuh. They's jes lak uh pack uh hawgs, when dey see uh full trough.

"Bet he's hangin' round some jook or 'nother. Glad Ah treated him cold. Whut do Ah want wid some trashy nigger out de streets? Bet he's livin' wid some woman or 'nother and takin' me for uh fool. Glad Ah caought mahself in time."

Tea Cake had more goo nature under his toe-nails than they had in their so-called Christian hears. She better not hear none of them old backbiters talking about her husband!! Please, Jesus, don't let them nasty niggers hurt her boy. If they do, Master Jesus, grant her a good gun and a chance to shoot 'em.

"Baby, Ah run mah other arm in mah coat-sleev and grabbed dat nigger by his necktie befo' he could bat his eye and then Ah wuz all over 'im jus' lak gravy over rice. He lost his razor tryin' tuh git loos from me.

"Naw, man, Ah wish Ah had uh thousand-leg tuh put on it." "so yuh won't lissen, huh? Dumb niggers and free schools. Ah'm gointuh take and teach yuh. Ah'll mainline but Ah won't side-track."

"Mis' Woods, Ah have often said to mah husband, Ah don't see how uh lady like Mis' Woods can stand all them common niggers round her place all de time."

"They don't worry me atall, Mis' Turner. Fact about de thing is, they tickles me wid they talk."

"You'se different from me. Ah can't stand black niggers. Ah don't blame de white folks from hatin' 'em 'cause Ah can't stand 'em mahself. 'Nother thing, Ah hates tuh see folks lak me and you mixed up wid 'em. Us oughta class off."


"And dey make me tired. Always laughin'! Dey laughs too much dey laughs too loud. Always singin' ol' nigger songs! Always cuttin' de monkey for white folks. If it wuzn't for so many black folks it wouldn't be no race problem. De white folks would take us wid dem. De black ones is holdin' us back."


Who wants to be mixed up wid us rusty black man, and uh black woman goin' down de street in all dem loud colors, and whoopin' and hollerin' and laughin' over nothing? Ah don't know. Don't bring me no nigger doctor tuh hand over mah sick-bed. Ah done had six chillun - wuzn't lucky enough tuh raise but dat one -- and ain't never had uh nigger tuh feel my pulse. White doctors always git mah money. Ah don't go in no nigger store tuh buy nothin' neither. Colored folks don't know nothin' 'bout no business. Deliver me!"

"he didn't do nothin' but hold us back -- talkin' 'bout work when de race ain't never done nothin' else. He wuz uh enemy tuh us, dat's whut. He wuz white folks' nigger."

"Ah yeah, she's too smart tuh stay round heah. She figgers we'se jus' uh bunch uh dumb niggers so she think she'll grow horns. But dat's uh lie. She'll die butt-headed."

"What kind of man is you, Turner? You see dese no count niggers come in heah and break up mah place! How kin you set and see yo' wife all trompled on? You ain't no kinda man at all. You seen dat Tea Cake shove me down! Yes you did! You ain't raised you' hand tuh do nothin' about it."

"And then again it never wuz as many dere as it waz heah. And then too, Janie, de white folks down dere know us. It's bad bein' strange niggers wid white folks. Everybody is against yuh."

"Dat sho is de truth. De ones de white man know is nice colored folks. De ones he don't know is bad niggers." Janie said this and laughed and Tea Cake laughed with her.

They sent word by the bailiff to Mr. Prescott they wanted to testify in the case. Tea Cake was a good boy. He had been good to that woman. No nigger woman ain't never been treated no better. Naw suh! He worked like a dog for her and nearly killed himself saving her in the storm, then soon as he got a little fever from the water, she took up with another man.

"If you know what's good for you, you better shut your mouth up until somebody calls on you," Mr. Prescott told him coldly.

"Yassuh, Mr. Prescott."

"We are handling this case. Another word out of you, out of any of you niggers back there, and I'll bind you over to the big court."

"She didn't kill not white man, did she? Well, long as she don't shoot no white man she kin kill jus' as many niggers as she please."

"Yeah, de nigger women kin kill up all de mens day wants tuh, but you bet' not kill one uh dem. De white folks will sho hang yuh if yuh do."

"Well, you know whut dey say 'uh white man and uh nigger woman is the freest thing on earth.' Dey do as dey please."

"Ah ain't got anything in mah heart aginst her. And Ah never woulda thought u thing, but de very first day dat lap-legged nigger come back heah makin' out he was lookin' fuh work, he come astin' me 'bout how wuz Mr. and Mrs. Woods makin' out. Dat goes tuh show yuh he was up tuh somethin'."