Reader reviews for Their Eyes Were Watching God

Slave vs free; men vs women; rich vs poor; love vs desire; friend vs foe; faith vs fact; but Not white vs black. Whites exist but on a different plane and only interact in the most formalized way. God, too, is the other that, like whites, leads nowhere and gives nothing. True slavery is being held apart from your humanity and the slaveholders here are men. Money is the force that keeps Janie from the freedom of her soul. At first it is the man's desire to get money and in the end, tragically, money is the only force that holds her apart from her heart's desire. Her soul found its fulfillment but not until money and men became irrelevant - thus when she becomes free. Here she attains her greatest beauty - not in the eyes of men who have always found her beautiful - but in acting with her own strength and power. Beauty comes as an aside no more important than her clothes, whites or even God. I hesitate including God in the last sentence because I don't want Christians to reject the book. But, I feel like this book is about Janie alone as flesh and that God isn't of the mud and so he isn't a player in this story. It could have been about God but it's not. It's about mud - God's tool not his existence.
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When I started reading the book I found it hard to read the book because of the way they speak. .. but the story is so good that you forgery about it. A story about a Black American Woman reaching her autonomy-a different narrative ending other than marriage or death. .. Read the book and fall in love with it yourself
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my favorite
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 'Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom were in the branches.'One might say that Janie knew how to get along, but she never was one to settle. Buffeted along by the social dictates of her time Janie made do in the depression era South as best she could. She was married off young, her ambitions were shrouded for years, yet through it all Janie remembered the joy of being a bee kissing a pear tree.Zora Neale Hurston captures a cultural history of America that few remember. Through Janie, Hurston tells the story of being an African American woman in America's awkward adolescence. She tells a love story set to rival anything written since. A painfully honest recount of a time not so long past, this breathtaking novel is a must read.
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The language was tough but the story was powerful; Janie's a story personal growth through 2 bad marriages and finally Tea Cake shows her life.
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Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God" is a masterpiece. I began this book last evening and finished it this morning. I felt sad when I put it down realizing that this exquisitely gifted author had given us such a small amount of literature. And yet also, when I put it down I sat smiling with joy at the piece I had just read."Their Eyes Were Watching God" is basically a love story, but not. It is basically a coming of age story, but not. It is basically a story of black humanity after their liberation from slavery, but not. This book fits into no category that I know of. It is the story of a young black girl, Janie, growing up in free Western Florida and raised by her "Nanny"; her mother having run off shortly after her birth. She was the progeny of her mother and a schoolteacher who had raped her. Her grandmother raised her with a lot of love, devotion and protected her from all that she could.When the girl came to her middle teens and became interested in the opposite sex, her grandmother arranged a marriage for her in the hopes of keeping her chaste. It was a loveless marriage to a much older man and as time went on he turned from treating her very well to expecting her to chop wood, plow and work right alongside him. When her grandmother died Janie ran off with another man who came through town and promised her the moon. Joe Starks did indeed give Janie almost everything she could want; everything she could want but himself. He took her to a new town inhabited only by black people where he decided that they needed a mayor to run things, that they needed more property to build rental housing, that they needed a general store and a post office. And he proceeded to work his way into their hearts as he had done Janie's and he accomplished all that plus he built her a big beautiful home. As time went by she became less and less important to Joe Starks and he became more and more important to himself. Janie's heart began to turn and while she still loved him, she began to see him as he truly was. Stark became ill and Janie nursed him until he realized that she felt contempt for him and he refused to allow her in his sick room. Others from the community came to nurse and feed him, but his illness continued to his death. He left Janie well off and she mourned for a time and then seemed content and turned all comers away. She had no interest in another man.Then she met "Tea Cake" and the story from here on is almost pure joy. For me, this was what the book had been building up to all along, though I didn't realize it until I got here.Hurston's words flow poetically from page to page. Her turn of a phrase is so beautiful that I found myself reading entire passages over and over again just to hear the language and phrasing. Her metaphors are wonderfully fitting to the situation in the story and the book is full of them. The book is very easily read and I highly recommend it and any of her writings.
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I knew before starting this book that it was definitive work in terms of black literature and feminist literature. I didn't know anything other than that though and to be honest, it's nothing like what I expected it to be. On the surface, it's just a tragic love story but underneath, it questions identity, power, love, and race.The rural Florida dialect was exquisite. I'm very glad I listened to this on audiobook rather than read it. I'm a little worried that on paper, I might have given up because of that dialect. Ruby Dee was an excellent narrator though. Her pronunciation and the emotions she emitted made the story come to life in so many ways that part of me wonders if I would have even liked this book if I had read it. I love the question of race in this book. It was interesting to the racism within the black community, not against white people, but against lighter or darker skinned black people. Janie's relationship with Tea Cake questions independence and power.Overall, a very good book which I would encourage anyone to read, or listen, to!
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Once again I am reviewing a book that is required high school reading for a lot of people. But was not for me. And while I was pleasantly surprised with "To Kill A Mockingbird", I don't have that same feeling with Ms. Hurston's novel. But isn't that how it goes with required high school reading? I am not saying that I hated it but I am rather indifferent to the whole novel.First let me explain the novel to you (those of you that haven't read it). The synopsis is a little misleading (in my opinion). The story is about a black woman, Janie Crawford, who was raised by her grandmother (a former slave). Janie's grandmother had certain ideas about what a good life was and enforced those on Janie, who bowed to her wishes. That is just the first part of the book. The rest of the story is about Janie's journey through life trying to find herself. Sounds interesting doesn't it?Now I have several issues with the book overall but I will start with the good. "Their Eyes Were Watching God" was a great depiction of the life of the main character and the struggle she (and other black women) had growing up in a post slavery world. You see some of the hardship and a little of the racism that occurred. Hurston used the black dialect as a literary tool to make her to keep with the time and place of the story and the economic status of her characters.While the language is in keeping with the time of the story, it takes a little getting use to. When I first started reading the story I had to read the character's dialogue a couple of times to get what they were saying. After I got uses to it, it went smoothly.The characters were flat. They were very one dimensional. The main character Janie never really changed. Her situation changed. The person she was living with changed. But she didn't. She just sort of followed where they lead her and became who they wanted her to be. Now I don't know if that says something of the women of her time or if Hurston was trying to convey a message. Whatever it was it left a lot to be desired. The other main character Tea Cake had a little more dimension to him and the story began to feel as if it was more about Tea Cake than Janie. When Janie married Sparks she became the docile, helpful house wife. When she married Tea Cake she sort of became his partner in crime, a traveling companion. But I never really felt any connection between the two. The characters never jumped off the page and made me feel for them or really care what was happening.Another thing that I have issues with is the treatment of violence against women. In the story, both Joe (Janie's second husband) and Tea Cake strike Janie, for minor reasons. The story portrays this as a normal occurrence. The men in the story even joke about abusing their wives and such. This may have been "normal" or "acceptable" at the time. But for an African-American artist and a woman whose heyday was during the Harlem Renaissance, I think Hurston missed an opportunity to make some kind of social commentary. Or maybe she did by playing wife beating off as a causal occurrence between man and wife.This book really didn't catch me. It left me with a lot of questions (is that a good sign?) and just sort of feeling like "it's done, oh well".
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The reputation of Hurston's novel as a definitive work with the canon of African American and Feminist literature is known to most reader's even before they turn to the first page, and such a reputation is justified. Hurston's alternation between an almost surreal narrative laden with metaphors and a phonetic dialogue of modeled after the speech of black southerners may catch some off guard at first, but such a technique ultimately serves to enhance the smooth readability of the work. The novel's gives us a female protagonist in search of identity, who realizes ultimately that such a quest requires us to examine how we as human beings define ourselves as well as our relationships. Though all of this does make for a quick and impacting read, Hurston's writing lacks the ability to evoke empathy, to drive a hook into the heart of the reader, that is possessed by her successors such as Walker and Wright.
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This is the story of Janie, an African-American woman in the deep southern United States. As a work of early feminist literature, Their Eyes is about Janie finding her voice or, as described in the Afterword, her "journey from object to subject." Hurston uses several techniques to explore the development of Janie's voice. Some of the novel is written in third person narrative; others in a black English dialect. In some parts, she clearly articulates Janie's thoughts and feelings and in others, she is silent. Janie is married off at a young age to a landowner named Logan, but this turns out to be a loveless marriage. She is then swept off her feet by Jody Sparks, a sweet-talking man with big ideas and an even bigger ego. As he fulfils his own potential, he suppresses Janie's. After Jody's death, Janie finds true love and personal growth with Tea Cake. He is a poor man, and a bit of a rabble rouser, but he loves her deeply. For the first two-thirds of this book I wondered why Janie loved Tea Cake. He had character traits that didn't suit me much, and it seemed like she could "do better." But then I realized the other men in her life, supposedly "better" men, were the very ones who held her back. In the second half of this book, Janie and Tea Cake choose to remain in their shanty during a hurricane. It is this scene that gives the book its title: 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. (p. 151). What amazing imagery! From this point on, the book was a real page-turner, with scenes reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, and a very poignant aftermath. In the end, Janie stands alone, but strong and independent.Hurston's work was largely ignored during her time, but Their Eyes has become an essential element of the canon of American literature. It is best read with some accompanying sources that provide an understanding of the social and cultural context in which it was written.
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