Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale HurstonI read this masterpiece for the first time in high school. The love story of Janie and Tea Cake is one of stupendous beauty. Zora Neal Hurstons text is a treasure:
So she went on thinking in soft, easy phrases while all around the house, the night time put on flesh and blackness.
Early in life, Janie is taken care of by her grandmother Nanny,
Every tear you drop squeezes a cup uh blood outa mah heart
As she grew, Janie waited for a bloom time, a green time and an orange time.
She is married off to an old, rich man, but grows restless,
There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
Ultimately , she gets an answer takes off with the ambitious Jody Starks. But, her hopes are shattered as Jodys ambitions in Eatonville, FL (coincidentally Hurstons hometown) where she feels,
Four walls squeezing her breath out. as Jody ignores her and builds his empire in the town.
He passes away and Janie meets her true love Tea Cake and she seems to have found her inner peace:
So she sat on the porch and watched the moon rise. Soon its amber fluid was drenching the earth, and quenching the thirst of the day.
Tea Cake gives her some lessons of wisdom:
See dat? Youse got de world in uh jug and make out you dont know it. But Ahm glad tuh be the one tuh tell yuh.
She sheds her reticences and fears in her love for him:
He drifted off to sleep and Janie looked down on him and felt a soul-crushing love. So her soul crawled out from its hiding place.
She never takes on any religion for:
All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise, they would not be worshipped.
Her love is her temple as she dreamed of under the pear trees as a young girl with Nanny.
Disaster eventually strikes, as it always does, gods dispensing their unreasoning suffering.
The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.
This novel was a forgotten masterpiece published in 1935 but forgotten until Alice Walker rediscovered her - and her gravesite - in 1977. Since, it has been appreciated as the quiet, beautiful monument to a womans strength and endurance. A must read in these times of women-hating rhetoric in Drumpfs amerikkka. The attacks on Planned Parenthood and the bullshit reverse discrimination are just two of the many demonstrations of why this book is important as both a feminist and anti-racist classic.
Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of the most beautifully evoked portraits of a woman of color that I have ever read.
"Their Eyes Were Watching God" - Summary: Overview Analysis - 60second Recap®
NEA Big Read
The novel explores main character Janie Crawford's "ripening from a vibrant, but voiceless, teenage girl into a woman with her finger on the trigger of her own destiny. Set in central and southern Florida in the early 20th century, the novel was initially poorly received. Since the late 20th century, it has been regarded as a seminal work in both African-American literature and women's literature. Southern states enacted new constitutions and legislation from to that effectively disenfranchised most African Americans. Jim Crow laws were passed, and most African Americans lost their political representation.
Their Eyes Were Watching God follows the life of Janie Crawford, a girl of mixed black and white heritage, around the turn of the century As an adolescent, Janie sees a bee pollinating a flower in her backyard pear tree and becomes obsessed with finding true love. Because there's nothing hotter than a little bee-on-flower action. Unfortunately, Nanny's plan doesn't go so well. In this marriage, Janie chafes under the uninspired but reliable Logan. Make that uninspired, reliable
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From the SparkNotes Blog
Janie Crawford, an attractive, confident, middle-aged black woman, returns to Eatonville, Florida, after a long absence. The black townspeople gossip about her and -speculate about where she has been and what has happened to her young husband, Tea Cake. Pheoby visits her to find out what has happened. Their conversation frames the story that Janie relates. Janie explains that her grandmother raised her after her mother ran off.
Their Eyes Were Watching God focuses on the experiences of Janie Crawford , a beautiful and determined fair-skinned black woman living in the American South. The novel begins when Janie returns to Eatonville, Florida after having left for a significant amount of time. She is met by the judgmental gossiping of Eatonville's townspeople, whose conversations focus on the fact that Janie had left town with a young man named Tea Cake. Amidst their gossiping, Janie's friend Pheoby Watson stands up for Janie and goes to greet her friend. Janie tells Pheoby her life story, including what happened in the time since she initially left Eatonville, which is the story of the rest of the novel. Janie spends her childhood being brought up by her grandmother Nanny , a former slave who, despite her controlling nature, has only the best intentions for her granddaughter.