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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale…
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Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

by Zora Neale Hurston, zora hurston

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,244205207 (3.97)1 / 698
  1. 113
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker (aleahmarie)
  2. 50
    Beloved by Toni Morrison (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  3. 10
    The Awakening by Kate Chopin (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Strong female protagonist causes a stir in a male-dominated society by going after the things she wants.
  4. 10
    Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Kincaid and Hurston have each set their moving, character-driven novels in atmospheric, sunny settings -- the Caribbean, and Florida respectively. Both novels explore haunting truths about identity, society, friendship and love as an African-American female protagonist gains new self-awareness and respect for her experiences.… (more)
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English (202)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All (204)
Showing 1-5 of 202 (next | show all)
I can't say I loved this book, but it was interesting and I'm glad I read it. Definitely a classic for a reason. ( )
  kyuuketsukirui | Feb 6, 2017 |
2.5 stars

This book follows African-American Janie as she goes through three husbands during the 1920s? 1930s? in Florida.

So, it seemed, to me, like it started off with a bunch of gossipy women. Shortly after, we went back in time to hear about Janie’s life and her three husbands. I wasn’t at all interested in the first husband and I remember nothing of what happened with him. The second husband was slightly more interesting, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out if she was married to “Joe” or “Jody”. It was only at the end of that section that I finally realized that they may have been the same guy. Her third husband, Tea Cake was more interesting, but I zoned out for parts of that section, as well.

I was ready to rate it 2 stars until the surprising ending. That, combined with the slightly more interesting Tea Cake brought up my rating to 2.5 stars. I do know that part of why I “missed” (that is, I wasn’t interested, so wasn’t really paying attention to what I read) much of the book was that the dialogue was written in a dialect that you really have to focus on to figure out. At least, it didn’t come easy to me, and I have a hard time slowing myself down to follow it better, so I missed much of the dialogue, but I know that wasn’t all, as there were other parts that I missed out on, as well.

I know so many people loved this, but sorry, not me.

Oh, and this isn’t this book alone, nor does it reflect this story, but once again, I HATE when publishers put an introduction, preface, foreword, etc of a classic where they pretty much reveal the entire plot!!! I started reading it, but when they started mentioning plot, I skipped the rest and read the book. I then went back and read the intro. Why, why, why do this? Why give it all away before one has even read the story!? Put these comments in an afterword… ( )
  LibraryCin | Jan 26, 2017 |
Janie Crawford longs for independence, her own identity. She doesn't find it with her first husband; it is squashed with her second. But when Tea Cake enters her life, she is able to start living her life as she wants to. But even with this younger, happy-go-lucky man, Janie is still burdened by her gender and her skin color (she is part black/part white). This classic novel by Zora Neale Hurston gives voice to the voiceless in a way that had not been done before she came along. ( )
  kaylaraeintheway | Jan 23, 2017 |
Have you ever read a book at exactly the right time in your life? Their Eyes Were Watching God was that book for me. It's a love story about looking back, looking within and finding the courage to look forward. More sweet than bitter. ( )
  beehappy | Jan 19, 2017 |
Few authors are like Hurston, who can move me with their words. Sentences with such emotion and structure that I stop and reread them like taking small bites of a delicious chocolate to make the flavor last longer on the tongue.

This is the story of Janie, who was married at age 16 and soon left her husband to follow another man, Joe Starks, to a town in West Florida populated solely by blacks. He wanted to be on the ground floor of a place where he could make something of himself. He did. He appointed himself mayor and built a store. Janie struggled with running the store but persevered. After his death she allowed the assistant to take over and luxuriated in a little freedom. Soon, she drew the attention of Tea Cake, a drifter, and set the town on its ear.

Her progression from small town girl, abandoned by her mother, raised by her grandmother, and growing to an independent and strong woman, was wonderful to watch. ( )
  mamzel | Jan 17, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 202 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zora Neale Hurstonprimary authorall editionscalculated
hurston, zoramain authorall editionsconfirmed
Danticat, EdwidgeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diaz, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gates Jr., Henry LouisAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Washington, Mary HelenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Henry Allen Moe
First words
Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board.
When I first read Their Eyes Were Watching God, in the early 1970's, I devoured it as one devours the most satisfying romantic fiction - the kind that stems from reality and that can, in the broadest sense, become real for oneself. (Introduction)
I first encountered Zora Neale Hurston in an Afro-American literature course I took in graduate school. (Afterword)
Quotations
This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears. the rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep. It connected itself with other vaguely felt matters that had struck her outside observation and buried themselves in her flesh. Now they emerged and quested about her consciousness...

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her.
Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore.
Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.
She saw a dust bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage!
There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.
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Book description
This is the story a girl who searches for the love she believes is true. Throughout her struggles she gains strength, independence, and wisdom. She overcomes the obstacles in her path to chase her dreams and they take her places she never thought she'd end up.

We read this book for class last year. And I don't like Janie at all. I think she's flighty, annoying, childish, and selfish. I don't like Janie but I do like what she learns throughout her life. I appreciate that she is determined and willing to fight for what she wants and believes.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061120065, Paperback)

At the height of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1930s, Zora Neale Hurston was the preeminent black woman writer in the United States. She was a sometime-collaborator with Langston Hughes and a fierce rival of Richard Wright. Her stories appeared in major magazines, she consulted on Hollywood screenplays, and she penned four novels, an autobiography, countless essays, and two books on black mythology. Yet by the late 1950s, Hurston was living in obscurity, working as a maid in a Florida hotel. She died in 1960 in a Welfare home, was buried in an unmarked grave, and quickly faded from literary consciousness until 1975 when Alice Walker almost single-handedly revived interest in her work.

Of Hurston's fiction, Their Eyes Were Watching God is arguably the best-known and perhaps the most controversial. The novel follows the fortunes of Janie Crawford, a woman living in the black town of Eaton, Florida. Hurston sets up her characters and her locale in the first chapter, which, along with the last, acts as a framing device for the story of Janie's life. Unlike Wright and Ralph Ellison, Hurston does not write explicitly about black people in the context of a white world--a fact that earned her scathing criticism from the social realists--but she doesn't ignore the impact of black-white relations either:

It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.
One person the citizens of Eaton are inclined to judge is Janie Crawford, who has married three men and been tried for the murder of one of them. Janie feels no compulsion to justify herself to the town, but she does explain herself to her friend, Phoeby, with the implicit understanding that Phoeby can "tell 'em what Ah say if you wants to. Dat's just de same as me 'cause mah tongue is in mah friend's mouf."

Hurston's use of dialect enraged other African American writers such as Wright, who accused her of pandering to white readers by giving them the black stereotypes they expected. Decades later, however, outrage has been replaced by admiration for her depictions of black life, and especially the lives of black women. In Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston breathes humanity into both her men and women, and allows them to speak in their own voices. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:31 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Meet the unforgettable Janie Crawford, an articulate African-American woman in the 1930s. Traces Janie's quest for identity, through three marriages, on a journey to her roots. When Janie Starks returns to her rural Florida home, her small black community is overwhelmed with curiosity about her relationship with a younger man.… (more)

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