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Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

by Zora Neale Hurston

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
19,358347247 (3.99)1 / 972
Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930's, journeys from being a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance.
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    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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    CGlanovsky: Strong female protagonist causes a stir in a male-dominated society by going after the things she wants.
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» See also 972 mentions

English (340)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (345)
Showing 1-5 of 340 (next | show all)
Jamie suffers through life as a poor black women of the South until she meets Tea Cake who takes her in a new direction to the mud of Lake Okeechobee and a deadly hurricane. ( )
  podocyte | Jul 13, 2024 |
Audio version with a knockout performance by the legendary Ruby Dee. Justifiably a classic of American lit. Janie is a memorable protagonist. A black woman who fights for and attains love, dignity and respect in a country that does not want her to have it. ( )
  Octavia78 | Jul 6, 2024 |
Some of the most polished and insightful prose I’ve encountered. A protagonist of strength and beauty in a world that felt true. ( )
  Amateria66 | May 24, 2024 |
BIBLIOGRAPHIC DETAILS:
(Available in Print: (1937), 10/24/2000; PUBLISHER: Amistad; First Hardcover Edition; ISBN: 978-0060199494; PAGES: 256; Unabridged.)

(Available as Digital)

*This edition-Audio: COPYRIGHT: 10/31/2005; ISBN: 9780060842765; PUBLISHER: Harper Audio; DURATION: 06:44:30; PARTS: 7; Unabridged; FILE SIZE: 194251 KB

TV FILM ADAPTAION: GENRE: Drama; BASED ON: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; WRITTEN BY: Suzan-Lori Parks, Misan Sagay, Bobby Smith Jr.; DIRECTED BY: Darnell Martin;
PRESENTED BY: Oprah Winfrey; STARRING: Halle Berry, Ruben Santiago-Hudson; Michael Ealy; MUSIC BY: Terence Blanchard; COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States;
ORIGINAL LANGUAGE: English; EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Oprah Winfrey, Kate Forte; PRODUCER: Matthew Carlisle; CINAMAPHOTOGRAPHY: Checco Varese; EDITOR: Peter C. Frank; RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes; PRODUCTION COMPANY: Harpo Films; DISTRIBUTOR Touchstone

SERIES:
No

MAJOR CHARACTERS:
(Not comprehensive. I was listening rather than reading, so may not have spelled names correctly)
Janie Crawford – Protagonist
Pheoby – Janie’s friend
Nanny – Janie’s grandmother
Johnny Taylor - Janie’s neighbor
Logan Killicks – Nanny’s choice for Janie’s suitor
Jody (Joe) Starks – Janie’s love interest
Vergible Woods (Tea Cake) – Janie’s love interest
Mrs. Turner – Janie’s neighbor
Motorboat – Teacake’s friend

SUMMARY/ EVALUATION:
I entered this book on my list of ‘want to reads” after reading “The Paris Library” where it was mentioned multiple times, and understandably; philosophical and poetic, it’s a great story.

AUTHOR:
Zora Neale Hurston – “(January 7, 1891[1]: 17 [2]: 5  – January 28, 1960) was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South and published research on hoodoo.[3] The most popular of her four novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. She also wrote more than 50 short stories, plays, and essays.” __Wikipedia

NARRATOR:
Ruby Dee: “Ruby Dee (October 27, 1922 – June 11, 2014) was an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and civil rights activist.[1] She originated the role of "Ruth Younger" in the stage and film versions of A Raisin in the Sun (1961). Her other notable film roles include The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) and Do the Right Thing (1989).” __Wikipedia
Ruby's narration was fabulous!

GENRE:
Classic Literature; Fiction; African American Fiction; Harlem Renaissance; Women’s Literature;

LOCATIONS:
Soth Florida; Eatonville, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; Belle Glade (Muck City), Florida; Everglades

TIME FRAME:
Early 20th Century

SUBJECTS:
1928 Okeechobee hurricane; Gender roles; Family relations; Love; Romance; Survival; Marriage; African American; Post American Civil War; Post-Slavery Florida; Trial; Beauty; Liberation; Eye dialect

DEDICATION:
"To Henry Allen Moe"

SAMPLE QUOTATION:
From Chapter 1
"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by time. That is the life of men.
Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.
So the beginning of this was a woman and she had come back from burying the dead. Not the dead of sick and ailing with friends at the pillow and the feet. She had come back from the sodden and the bloated; the sudden dead, their eyes flung wide open in judgement.
The people all saw her come because it was sundown. The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky. 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 judgement.
Seeing the woman as she was made them remember the envy they had stored up from other times. So they chewed up the back parts of their minds and swallowed with relish. They made burning statements with questions, and killing tools out of laughs. It was cruelty. A mood come alive. Words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song.
'What she doin' coming back here in dem overhalls? Can't she fin no dress to put on?--Where's dat blue satin dress she left here in?--Where all dat money her husband took and died and left her?--What dat ole forty year ole 'oman doin' wid her hair swingin' down her back lak some young gal?--Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid?--Though she was goint to marry?--Where he left her?--What he done wid all her money?--Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain't even got no hairs--why she don't stay in her class?--"

RATING: 4 stars.
STARTED READING – FINISHED READING
5-16-2022 to 5-20-2022
________________________________________ ( )
  TraSea | Apr 29, 2024 |
"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board...for some they sail forever on the horizon..."
Janie is a young African-American woman with dreams of romance. She experiences a longing "for the world to be made." (p. 11) These dreams are circumvented by her grandmother who marries her off to Logan Killicks, a well-off older man so that Janie can have a more secure life. Janie tries to love him, but finally realizes that "marriage does not make love. Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman." (p. 25)
She eventually runs off twice to find a better, more adventurous life. The first one, Joe Starks, intends to become a rich and important person. Although his plans prove successful, the life Janie lives becomes suffocating. It is only when she meets Tea Cake, who has nothing but love to offer, does she learn to live fully and adventurously. "She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net....so much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see."
The book gives a first hand account of the African American experience of the early 20th century- the racism and classism(based on not only money but racial features-i.e. Mrs. Turner who "built an altar to Cuaucasian characteristics for all" p. 145) experienced, the search for a voice and a place to make a free and independent life, as well as the misogyny evident in the lives of women. (For instance, in a fit of jealousy, Tea Cake whips Janie and then is proud that due to her light skin, every bruise is visible.)
This brilliant novel cocludes that the gossip that surrounds her come from people that have never truly experienced life or love. "Two things everybody's got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got to find out about livin fu theyselves." (p. 192)
How true! There is a reason this book is one of the list of "The Greatest Books". ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 340 (next | show all)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hurston, Zora Nealeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyd, ValerieContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danticat, EdwidgeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dee, RubyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diaz, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eley, HollyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinkney, JerryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, ZadieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Washington, Mary HelenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, Sherley AnneAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, Shirley AnneForewordsecondary 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.
Last words
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Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930's, journeys from being a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance.

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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.
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