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One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston's beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston's masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published -- perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.

Topics: United States of America, Race Relations, American South, Florida, 1920s, 1930s, Bildungsroman, Semi-Autobiographical, Lyrical, Romantic, Realistic, Heartfelt, Feminism, Coming of Age, Spirituality , African American Culture & Characters, Harlem Renaissance, Modernism, Third Person Narration, Realism, 20th Century, Female Author, and American Author

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061758126
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A nice story about a woman named Janie as she goes through life, love and marriage. The dialogue in this story really helps the reader connect to the characters along with helping the reader her the words s they would be said.more
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Perennial Classics (HarperPerennial), 1990 (originally published in 1937).Characters: Janie; Nanny (Janie’s grandmother); Logan Killicks (Janie’s first husband); Jody Starks (Janie’s second husband); Tea Cake (Janie’s third husband); Pheoby Watson (Janie’s best friend)Setting: Rural Florida around the 1930s Theme: Language as a mechanism of control; power and conquest as a means to fulfillment; love and relationships versus independence; spiritual fulfillment; materialismGenre: Classic African-American literature; women’s literature; fictionGolden Quote: “The day of the gun, and the bloody body, and the courthouse came and commenced to sing a sobbing sigh out of every corner of the room; out of each and every chair and thing. Commenced to sing, commenced to sob and sigh, singing and sobbing.”Summary: 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. From there, the novel documents her emotional growth and maturity through three marriages.Audience: 9th grade and upCurriculum ties: Discussion Questions: 1.What kind of God is the eyes of Hurston's characters watching? What is the nature of that God and of their watching? Do any of them question God?2. What is the importance of the concept of horizon? How do Janie and each of her men widen her horizons? What is the significance of the novel's final sentences in this regard?3. How does Janie's journey--from West Florida, to Eatonville, to the Everglades--represent her, and the novel's increasing immersion in black culture and traditions? What elements of individual action and communal life characterize that immersion?4. To what extent does Janie acquire her own voice and the ability to shape her own life? How are the two related? Does Janie's telling her story to Pheoby in flashback undermine her ability to tell her story directly in her own voice?5. What are the differences between the language of the men and that of Janie and the other women? How do the differences in language reflect the two groups' approaches to life, power, relationships, and self-realization? How do the novel's first two paragraphs point to these differences?6. In what ways does Janie conform to or diverge from the assumptions that underlie the men's attitudes toward women? How would you explain Hurston's depiction of violence toward women? Does the novel substantiate Janie's statement that "Sometimes God gits familiar wid us womenfolks too and talks His inside business"?7. What is the importance in the novel of the "signifyin'" and "playin' de dozens" on the front porch of Joe's store and elsewhere? What purpose do these stories, traded insults, exaggerations, and boasts have in the lives of these people? How does Janie counter them with her conjuring?8. Why is adherence to received tradition so important to nearly all the people in Janie's world? How does the community deal with those who are "different"?9. After Joe Starks's funeral, Janie realizes that "She had been getting ready for her great journey to the horizons in search of people; it was important to all the world that she should find them and they find her." Why is this important "to all the world"? In what ways does Janie's self-awareness depend on her increased awareness of others?10. How important is Hurston's use of vernacular dialect to our understanding of Janie and the other characters and their way of life? What do speech patterns reveal about the quality of these lives and the nature of these communities? In what ways are "their tongues cocked and loaded, the only real weapon" of these people?Lesson Idea Deepening Our Understanding of Power and Control through Literature1) Examining the Cycle of Abuse: Have students divide the book into four sections: Janie’s life with Nanny, with Logan, with Joe Starks, and with Tea Cake. Have students work in groups using a plot diagram. Then, in a class discussion, have students share plot cycles and examine the abuse cycles in the text. 2) Examining Relationships through Imagery: Like the media, Hurston paints images throughout her novel. As a romantic writer, she uses a great deal of nature. • How does Hurston use nature to reflect the state of relationships throughout the novel? Have students choose a section of the text and create a dual-entry journal to examine the evidence (quote and type of imagery: auditory, gustatory, olfactory, tactile, thermal, visual) and its effect (what it shows about relationships).3) Wrap-up: Have students’ jigsaw what they have learned in a class discussion and then create a Venn diagram to show where they see overlaps in attitudes/behavior of characters. Awards: None, but it is considered one of the most important and influential novels in contemporary African American literature Personal response: At first, I was completely thrown off by the southern black vernacular used throughout the novel. With this statement, I have to say that once I got used to it, it greatly added to my enjoyment of the story. Hurston’s use of dialect creates a realistic portrayal of life in the rural south during a time of much uncertainty for black Americans (after the end of slavery and before the Civil Rights Movement). She also beautifully crafts the character of Janie Crawford, a strong black woman struggling against the societal norms of the time, but all the while, constrained by them as well. Despite her circumstances, she perseveres through three marriages (two unhappy and the other, the love of her life), owning a business, a hurricane, and even a murder trial. I especially loved Hurston’s poetic metaphors used throughout the story. They brought a sense of wonderment and magic to Janie’s life story.more
I appreciated this book much more now that I read it in college as opposed to when I read it in high school. I think it is a pretty easy read that keeps you hooked without being too extreme. In this sense, it stays realistic to a pointmore
So I've been reading through the Harlem Renaissance lately, that period between 1920 and 1940 that had this explosion of black literature. I read Allain Locke's The New Nego, a compilation with guys like Langston Hughes and Jean Toomer - great stuff. Really smart. And I read Jean Toomer's Cane, the Harlem Renaissance's entry into the modernist novel: really ambitious, fractured, weird, brilliant but not entirely successful. I read Nella Larsen's Quicksand: great plot, great characters, not always the most elegant writing. I read George Schuyler's Black No More, a satire about a guy who develops a serum that turns black people white. Effective satire, fun to read...not quite good enough to make it into the canon.

And then I read Their Eyes Were Watching God, and it was just amazing. Ambiguous, shifty, deep, smart, perfectly put together.

Hurston fought with Richard Wright about the point of the Harlem Renaissance. He said black authors have to engage with white people, with the fight for equality. Hurston is defiantly unconcerned with white people: this is a book about black people, almost wholly unconcerned with what white people are up to. Today it seems silly that anyone would question that, but at the time she came under fire, and her book sank out of sight for 30 years until Alice Walker went and dove down and got it.

Hurston was an anthropologist, she collected and studied black folklore, and she weaves it into this book in a way that adds to and comments on the story - and it's also wicked entertaining. This is the earliest mention I know of The Dozens, the game of dissing that today comprises my entire relationship with TD.

It's held up since then and it holds up now. Loads of people have attacked it as being a belated black entry into the canon for PC reasons. But why this and not those other books I mentioned above? This because it's better. It's wonderful. This is a book that stands up.

I was hanging out with this friend of mine tonight who I hadn't seen for a few years and she was like "Dude, you read sortof a weird amount of books so I can't really keep up on FB, but anything stand out for you over the past...years?" and I was like "Yeah, Their Eyes." I like this book.more
I haven't finished the book yet, but to me it almost doesn't matter what happens, I'm just soaking up the words. I think Zora Neale Hurston was a very special writer, very intelligent, creative, and observant.I love her description of Janie's sexual awakening, it's very poetic: "She was seeking confirmation of the voice and vision, and everywhere she found and acknowledged answers.....She was sixteen. She had glossy leaves and bursting buds and she wanted to struggle with life....Through pollinated air she saw a glorious being coming up the road." Everything she's written feels deliberate and deeply thought out.more
Obviously the prose style is a goddamn legend, that goes without saying. The book is extremely engaging for its language, it's study of a culture, and of that culture's use of language, but the nominal "story" only grabbed me a little bit here and there. The ending worked for me, I'll give it that, but the core of the story (such as it is) is a romance written for (straight, gender-conformant) women.more
After reading just one paragraph, just one sentence of Their Eyes Were Watching God, I was immediately under the spell of Hurston's gorgeous and skillful writing. Reading just those few sentences made me wonder why I ever waste my time reading anything less majestic. Here it is: "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" (pg. 1).Their Eyes Were Watching God is about an African American woman named Janie living in Florida in the early 20th century. As a teenager, Janie lives with her grandmother and dreams of beauty, love, and nature: "Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the back-yard. She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days. That was to say, every since the first tiny bloom had opened. It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously. How? Why? It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again. What? How? Why? 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." (pg. 10-11).Janie must grow up quickly, however, when her grandmother finds her a husband. Janie has opinions, oh yes she does, and good ideas, but her new husband doesn't care to hear them. She doesn't love him: "She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman" (pg. 25).The first chance she gets, Janie runs away with another man - a sharp-dressed stranger who promises adventure and new experiences in a "town all outa colored folks" (pg. 28) called Eatonville farther south in Florida. Joe Starks catches Janie's interest because "he spoke for far horizon. He spoke for change and chance" (pg. 29).Janie becomes the wife of the mayor and richest man in town, but in exchange she has to learn to keep quiet and do as she's told. It's no life for the smart and spirited Janie, but she lives it for years until her husband dies.When Janie finally insists on living the life she's always wanted, she learns everything she's been missing about love, freedom, happiness, and even grief. Her adventures take her from Jacksonville, FL, down to the Everglades.One fascinating and significant aspect of the novel is it's emphasis on oral history. Janie, having returned to Eatonville, tells her friend Pheoby her life story: "'If they wants to see and know, why they don't come kiss and be kissed? Ah could then sit down and tell 'em things. Ah been a delegate to de big 'ssociation of life. Yessuh! De Grand Lodge, de big convention of livin' is just where Ah been dis year and a half y'all ain't seen me.' "They sat there in the fresh young darkness close together. Phoeby eager to feel and do through Janie, but hating to show her zest for fear it might be thought mere curiosity. Janie full of that oldest human longing - self revelation" (pg. 6-7).Her initial aim is to explain to Pheoby where she's been and what she's been doing, but she soon realizes that "'tain't no use in me telling you somethin' unless Ah give you de understandin' to go 'long wit it. Unless you see de fur, a mink skin ain't no different from a coon hide" (pg. 7). So she starts the story from the beginning. Oral histories are, of course, very important culturally for the African American community. As slaves, most didn't know how to read or write, so they told stories and sang songs. Janie's story becomes part of that tradition.Their Eyes Were Watching God is a masterpiece on many levels. It is a masterpiece of African American literature. It's a masterpiece of women's literature. It's a mixture of poetry and dialect. It's a novel about marriage and independence. It's a novel about love and money. It's a novel about self-sacrifice and self-fulfillment. Above all, it's a novel about men and women making their way through life.I can't recommend Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God enough. Novels don't get much better than this.more
Janie Crawford is a woman on a mission to find love. Married off by her grandmother at a very young age, Janie is convinced marriage means love. When that isn't the case she moves on to be the wife of Joe Starks who views her as nothing more than eye candy, a trophy to hang off his arm. After the death of Joe, Janie meets a younger man who goes by the name Tea Cake. Tea Cake convinces her to leave town with him and run off to the Everglades. Convinced she has found love at last Janie bends her personality to suit the new relationship she has entered. One of the most dramatic aspects of Their Eyes Were Watching God is that it does not have the ending one would expect. However, it is a pleasure to wade through the thick dialect and watch Janie grow.more
The book was written by Zora Hurston in 1937, and it was highly unusual for a woman of colour to be a successful author in the southern USA at the time. This short book is the story of the second generation of black women to live 'free' in the southern USA. She is being raised by her grandmother who is a housemaid. One of the first things I noticed in this book is the two very different styles of writing. The narrator opens up a description of men's and women's hopes and dreams and describes the granddaughter, who until she saw herself in a photograph at age 6 or so had no idea she was black. The conversations among people themselves is full of expressions and a style of speaking that takes some getting used to but gives you a better picture of how a largely ignored population people talked at the time. (rough paraphrase as I don't have the book with me: "you know you can talk to me.. I am like a chicken.. I drink water in but I don't put any out"). When her grandmother is dying she marries her grandaughter off to her version of a successful coloured person (meaning owns land to work). You then follow her story through three husbands: The cold farmer, the even colder store owner/mayor, and finally the younger gambler. All three give you a much better insight to the time.It took me a while to get into the 'lingo' of the book, but it was well worth reading. A short read that you should add to mount TBR.more
Setting: This story about life's journey is set in Florida during the 1920s.Plot: Janie follows 3 husbands in pursuit of happiness and independence.Characters: Janie (protagonist) beautiful, naive; Logan- Janie's 1st husband; Joe- her 2nd husband; Tea Cake- 3rd husband; Townspeople- (antagonist)Symbols: the mule, 3 houses, 3 husbands, hurricaneCharacteristics: moved between prose and poetic prose, biblical allusionsMy reaction: I enjoyed the story because it could be read with out worrying about the symbolsmore
This novel is the story of fair-skinned Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, racism, discrimination and loss. I found the novel interesting and enjoyed the character of Janie. What a resilient woman. I would give this a 4.5 stars out of 5.more
This was a great discovery. The language is brilliant, poetic, and strong. Loved every moment and it led me to research on Harlem Renaissance.more
A wonderful story of a woman coming into her own that should be listened to, to be fully appreciated and understood because of the southern black dialogue which is heavy in some place. Their Eyes Were Watching God, an American classic, is the luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930s, whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to 70 years.This poetic, graceful love story, rooted in Black folk traditions and steeped in mythic realism, celebrates boldly and brilliantly African-American culture and heritage. And in a powerful, mesmerizing narrative, it pays quiet tribute to a Black woman who, though constricted by the times, still demanded to be heard.Originally published in 1937 and long out of print, the book was reissued in 1975 and nearly three decades later Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered a seminal novel in American fiction.Performed by Ruby Deemore
Absolutely hated this book.Stupid concept, stupid writing style.It really just was boringmore
Loved it .Can"t help but think this would make a great movie. The section describing the hurricane was immaculate .I could actually feel the terror of that nightmare storm.more
I remember adoring this book the first time I read it. So much so, that when I was sharing with a new-found friend the books I found most amazing, this one sprang immediately to mind. She didn't care for it though, and on reread though I still love it, I think I can understand why this wouldn't appeal to everyone. First of all, the dialogue is written in American Black dialect, complete with elisions and phonetic spellings. It makes it a struggle to read, even tedious at times trying to wrest meaning from the words. Not as difficult as unmodernized Chaucer perhaps, but harder to parse I think than Shakespeare. Harder than Alice Walker's The Color Purple or Toni Morrison's Beloved, both of which I read recently. Yet like Chaucer or Shakespeare, there's true poetry in the prose. Right in the second chapter was my favorite passage, among the most extraordinary I've read in literature, where through describing a blossoming pear tree under which Janie Crawford shares her first kiss, we watch a girl come of age: 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 are lyrical passages that sing throughout the novel, striking lines that have the sparkling resonance of the best of literature. So yes, I think taking the time to see through the sometimes difficulties of reading this beyond rewarding. The story surrounds Janie Crawford, her road to self-awareness and love. Given clues in the text, I'd say the story spans from about 1899 when Janie would be sixteen to around 1928 or so. (The book describes what seems to be the Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928.) Janie doesn't really find love until she's about forty, after two husbands, with a man 15 years younger than she is, Tea Cake. (That love of a middle-aged woman with a much younger man was something that in itself I found refreshing.) Compared to her second husband, Joe Stark, who was the mayor of a black-run Florida town and entrepreneur, Tea Cake is poor, even feckless. He's no paragon, and Tea Cake and Janie's relationship with him will, I think, be the other major issue some may have with the book. At one point Tea Cake takes 200 dollars of her money off Janie without telling her and spends it foolishly, and another time to show she belongs to him, he slaps her around. Yet Thurston does show his appeal, why Janie flourishes and grows with him, especially after her loveless marriages with repressive husbands. As she tells her friend Pheoby: He kin take most any lil thing and make summertime out of it when times is dull. Then we lives offa dat happiness he made till some mo' happiness come along. He makes her laugh. He brings back to her the joy she felt under that blossoming pear tree when she was young and dreams were still possible. And if there's poverty and tragedy in their story, there's also no bitterness, no self-pity, but a love of life that imbues this book with light despite dark events. So yes, this is an American classic, and rightly so.more
My greatest interest in this book was from a woman's perspective. The main character flounders through attempts at freedom yet continuously finds herself entrapped in relationships where abuse and limitations occur. Unfortunately, this remains a problem for women. The look for satisfaction or to have the world widened for them via a relationship and discover that the opposite occurs. One of the significant differences between this book and most others from this time (and later) is how frankly it handles the subject of money and how it affects relationships. Janie, the main character, eventually becomes financially independent and thus able to make choices about men regardless of their ability to provide for her. Some people refer to her as having an independent spirit or as finding herself but I see her as always following someone, from her grandmother to Tea Cake. It would be worthwhile to discuss Janie's choices with a group of pre-teen or teenage girls. It's a shame Hurston didn't continue the book into her life without Tea Cake.Much as I liked this book, it had some pointed flaws. Being the anthropologist that she is, she too often falls into watching the men tell tales or trade language on the porch and loses track of the supposed heroine. The black vernacular didn't bother me because she uses it very consistently. It's rarely confusing. There are also incongruous events, like Tea Cake hitting Janie when we haven't been led to believe he would do that, just the opposite. I was also disappointed by how undeveloped Janie's relationship with her friend Phoeby was. She was less a character in the story than a devise.One of the aspects of this novel I liked most was its complexity. Hurston juggles race, gender, and poverty and we see their interrelations shift and change. This is a book I'll keep on my shelf and has made me curious about Hurston's autobiography.more
I decided to read this book because my son had to read it when he was in high school, which was only last year. Their Eyes Ere Watching God was an interesting read. I really don't know what I was expecting when I saw the title. I don't know if I would have read the book if my son didn't have to read it for school.I found the language to be difficult to understand at first. I found myself reading aloud to really understand some of what the characters were saying. The story is being told by Janie to her friend Phoeby. Janie had been married when she was very young and this is the story of her marriages and life.Everyone in Janie's original town is talking because she comes back after running off with a younger fellow after she becomes a widow. Her friend Phoeby tells her everyone is talking about her and they want to know where Tea Cake is. The story was interesting to see how Janie grew up during her marriages.more
UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL!The poetry and writing skills blow your mind. The way the voice changes from third person to Janie, as she gains her voice is fantastic.This is one of the best books I've ever read!more
This novel from a Harlem Renaissance author was panned when it was first published because it was not in step with the protest tradition of the period. The main character, Janie, is on a journey of self-discovery that is a delight to read for all the usual reasons a good book is a "good book." Additionally, Janie is a woman who survived. "Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, tings done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches (8). Raised by her grandmother, in the shadow of the grandmother's white employer, Janie did not realize she was not white until she saw herself in a photograph. She endured a hideous arranged marriage to a man she found revolting, flood, hunger, loneliness, and finally her lover's agonizing death at her hand, but also came to her own understanding of love and life, and more importantly, herself. A great read.more
Captivating. Janie's progressive empowerment is a wonder to behold. As I read somewhere, we watch her move from object to subject. Her passion for life, and fervent belief that marriage should and can mean more, are inspiring. This is a great adventure story, but one that contains a deep and insightful character study.more
Although I was mentally engaged in this book very quickly, it never engaged my emotions. I felt like an observer rather than a participant in the life of the protagonist, Janie. Maybe it's due to the way Janie narrates her own story. At the point in time that the narration occurs, Janie has moved somewhere beyond her initial emotions about the events of her life to reflection and acceptance. I didn't know until after I finished the book that Hurston was an anthropologist, so perhaps her intent was to appeal more to the mind than to the emotions.I was surprised that race wasn't more of a factor in the book. Race was always there in the background, but Janie's main conflict was with her role as a wife, not with her lot as an African American. The reader learns fairly early that Janie was the first generation in her family born in freedom, yet Janie wasn't allowed to define freedom for herself. For Janie's grandmother, Nanny, freedom meant that Janie could live the life of ease that Nanny dreamed of. For Janie's first two husbands, freedom meant that the husband would do his wife's thinking for her. None of them thought of asking Janie what she wanted. Although Janie was outwardly cooperative, she withheld her affection from those who crushed her spirit. Janie finally began to experience freedom as a widow.I liked this book, but didn't love it, so I'm not likely to discover the richness of meaning that would come through multiple readings. It's a book that will stimulate discussion, making it a great choice for the NEA's Big Read program.more
I'm surprised "When Their Eyes Were Watching God" was disparaged by prominent black writers in 1937 when it was published, and I'm glad the book went from near extinction to broad circulation in the 70's and 80's. It's raw and yet nuanced, and has characters who are strong and yet frail. It's certainly worth reading.Quotes:On dreams, men and women (these are the first lines of the book; what a great opening):"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."On lust:"The men noticed her firm buttocks like she had grape fruits in her hip pockets; the great rope of black hair swinging to her waist and unraveling in the wind like a plume; then her pugnacious breasts trying to bore holes in her shirt."On life:"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."On white people:"Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it's some 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 women is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see."On perseverance:"But nothing can't stop you from wishin'. You can't beat nobody down so low till you can rob 'em of they will. An didn't want to be used for a work-ox and a brood-sow and Ah didn't want mah daughter used dat way neither. It sho wasn't mah will for things to happen lak they did. Ah even hated de way you was born. But, all de same Ah said thank God, Ah got another chance. Ah wanted to preach a great sermon about colored women sittin' on high, but they wasn't no pulpit for me."On marriage:'Did marriage end the cosmic loneliness of the unmated? Did marriage compel love like the sun the day?"and later:"She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman."On the human condition, and human potential:"When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another, but the mud is deaf and dumb. Like al the other trembling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine."On passion:"The fought on. 'You done hurt mah heart, now you come wid uh like tuh bruise mah ears! Turn go mah hands!' Janie seethed. But Tea Cake never let go. They wrestled on until they were doped with their own fumes and emanations; till their clothes had been torn away; till he hurled her to the floor and held her there melting her resistance with the heat of his body, doing things with their bodies to express the inexpressible; kissed her until she arched her body to meet him and they fell asleep in sweet exhaustion."On God:"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."On love:"...love ain't somethin' lak uh grindstone dat's de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touches. 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."more
A great book about relationships. The people were real and interesting. It was written from a black, female perspective and yet most of it was true of all relationships. The only set back was it was mostly dialogue and it was written in the way they spoke so that was hard to read.more
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Reviews

A nice story about a woman named Janie as she goes through life, love and marriage. The dialogue in this story really helps the reader connect to the characters along with helping the reader her the words s they would be said.more
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Perennial Classics (HarperPerennial), 1990 (originally published in 1937).Characters: Janie; Nanny (Janie’s grandmother); Logan Killicks (Janie’s first husband); Jody Starks (Janie’s second husband); Tea Cake (Janie’s third husband); Pheoby Watson (Janie’s best friend)Setting: Rural Florida around the 1930s Theme: Language as a mechanism of control; power and conquest as a means to fulfillment; love and relationships versus independence; spiritual fulfillment; materialismGenre: Classic African-American literature; women’s literature; fictionGolden Quote: “The day of the gun, and the bloody body, and the courthouse came and commenced to sing a sobbing sigh out of every corner of the room; out of each and every chair and thing. Commenced to sing, commenced to sob and sigh, singing and sobbing.”Summary: 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. From there, the novel documents her emotional growth and maturity through three marriages.Audience: 9th grade and upCurriculum ties: Discussion Questions: 1.What kind of God is the eyes of Hurston's characters watching? What is the nature of that God and of their watching? Do any of them question God?2. What is the importance of the concept of horizon? How do Janie and each of her men widen her horizons? What is the significance of the novel's final sentences in this regard?3. How does Janie's journey--from West Florida, to Eatonville, to the Everglades--represent her, and the novel's increasing immersion in black culture and traditions? What elements of individual action and communal life characterize that immersion?4. To what extent does Janie acquire her own voice and the ability to shape her own life? How are the two related? Does Janie's telling her story to Pheoby in flashback undermine her ability to tell her story directly in her own voice?5. What are the differences between the language of the men and that of Janie and the other women? How do the differences in language reflect the two groups' approaches to life, power, relationships, and self-realization? How do the novel's first two paragraphs point to these differences?6. In what ways does Janie conform to or diverge from the assumptions that underlie the men's attitudes toward women? How would you explain Hurston's depiction of violence toward women? Does the novel substantiate Janie's statement that "Sometimes God gits familiar wid us womenfolks too and talks His inside business"?7. What is the importance in the novel of the "signifyin'" and "playin' de dozens" on the front porch of Joe's store and elsewhere? What purpose do these stories, traded insults, exaggerations, and boasts have in the lives of these people? How does Janie counter them with her conjuring?8. Why is adherence to received tradition so important to nearly all the people in Janie's world? How does the community deal with those who are "different"?9. After Joe Starks's funeral, Janie realizes that "She had been getting ready for her great journey to the horizons in search of people; it was important to all the world that she should find them and they find her." Why is this important "to all the world"? In what ways does Janie's self-awareness depend on her increased awareness of others?10. How important is Hurston's use of vernacular dialect to our understanding of Janie and the other characters and their way of life? What do speech patterns reveal about the quality of these lives and the nature of these communities? In what ways are "their tongues cocked and loaded, the only real weapon" of these people?Lesson Idea Deepening Our Understanding of Power and Control through Literature1) Examining the Cycle of Abuse: Have students divide the book into four sections: Janie’s life with Nanny, with Logan, with Joe Starks, and with Tea Cake. Have students work in groups using a plot diagram. Then, in a class discussion, have students share plot cycles and examine the abuse cycles in the text. 2) Examining Relationships through Imagery: Like the media, Hurston paints images throughout her novel. As a romantic writer, she uses a great deal of nature. • How does Hurston use nature to reflect the state of relationships throughout the novel? Have students choose a section of the text and create a dual-entry journal to examine the evidence (quote and type of imagery: auditory, gustatory, olfactory, tactile, thermal, visual) and its effect (what it shows about relationships).3) Wrap-up: Have students’ jigsaw what they have learned in a class discussion and then create a Venn diagram to show where they see overlaps in attitudes/behavior of characters. Awards: None, but it is considered one of the most important and influential novels in contemporary African American literature Personal response: At first, I was completely thrown off by the southern black vernacular used throughout the novel. With this statement, I have to say that once I got used to it, it greatly added to my enjoyment of the story. Hurston’s use of dialect creates a realistic portrayal of life in the rural south during a time of much uncertainty for black Americans (after the end of slavery and before the Civil Rights Movement). She also beautifully crafts the character of Janie Crawford, a strong black woman struggling against the societal norms of the time, but all the while, constrained by them as well. Despite her circumstances, she perseveres through three marriages (two unhappy and the other, the love of her life), owning a business, a hurricane, and even a murder trial. I especially loved Hurston’s poetic metaphors used throughout the story. They brought a sense of wonderment and magic to Janie’s life story.more
I appreciated this book much more now that I read it in college as opposed to when I read it in high school. I think it is a pretty easy read that keeps you hooked without being too extreme. In this sense, it stays realistic to a pointmore
So I've been reading through the Harlem Renaissance lately, that period between 1920 and 1940 that had this explosion of black literature. I read Allain Locke's The New Nego, a compilation with guys like Langston Hughes and Jean Toomer - great stuff. Really smart. And I read Jean Toomer's Cane, the Harlem Renaissance's entry into the modernist novel: really ambitious, fractured, weird, brilliant but not entirely successful. I read Nella Larsen's Quicksand: great plot, great characters, not always the most elegant writing. I read George Schuyler's Black No More, a satire about a guy who develops a serum that turns black people white. Effective satire, fun to read...not quite good enough to make it into the canon.

And then I read Their Eyes Were Watching God, and it was just amazing. Ambiguous, shifty, deep, smart, perfectly put together.

Hurston fought with Richard Wright about the point of the Harlem Renaissance. He said black authors have to engage with white people, with the fight for equality. Hurston is defiantly unconcerned with white people: this is a book about black people, almost wholly unconcerned with what white people are up to. Today it seems silly that anyone would question that, but at the time she came under fire, and her book sank out of sight for 30 years until Alice Walker went and dove down and got it.

Hurston was an anthropologist, she collected and studied black folklore, and she weaves it into this book in a way that adds to and comments on the story - and it's also wicked entertaining. This is the earliest mention I know of The Dozens, the game of dissing that today comprises my entire relationship with TD.

It's held up since then and it holds up now. Loads of people have attacked it as being a belated black entry into the canon for PC reasons. But why this and not those other books I mentioned above? This because it's better. It's wonderful. This is a book that stands up.

I was hanging out with this friend of mine tonight who I hadn't seen for a few years and she was like "Dude, you read sortof a weird amount of books so I can't really keep up on FB, but anything stand out for you over the past...years?" and I was like "Yeah, Their Eyes." I like this book.more
I haven't finished the book yet, but to me it almost doesn't matter what happens, I'm just soaking up the words. I think Zora Neale Hurston was a very special writer, very intelligent, creative, and observant.I love her description of Janie's sexual awakening, it's very poetic: "She was seeking confirmation of the voice and vision, and everywhere she found and acknowledged answers.....She was sixteen. She had glossy leaves and bursting buds and she wanted to struggle with life....Through pollinated air she saw a glorious being coming up the road." Everything she's written feels deliberate and deeply thought out.more
Obviously the prose style is a goddamn legend, that goes without saying. The book is extremely engaging for its language, it's study of a culture, and of that culture's use of language, but the nominal "story" only grabbed me a little bit here and there. The ending worked for me, I'll give it that, but the core of the story (such as it is) is a romance written for (straight, gender-conformant) women.more
After reading just one paragraph, just one sentence of Their Eyes Were Watching God, I was immediately under the spell of Hurston's gorgeous and skillful writing. Reading just those few sentences made me wonder why I ever waste my time reading anything less majestic. Here it is: "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" (pg. 1).Their Eyes Were Watching God is about an African American woman named Janie living in Florida in the early 20th century. As a teenager, Janie lives with her grandmother and dreams of beauty, love, and nature: "Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the back-yard. She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days. That was to say, every since the first tiny bloom had opened. It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously. How? Why? It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again. What? How? Why? 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." (pg. 10-11).Janie must grow up quickly, however, when her grandmother finds her a husband. Janie has opinions, oh yes she does, and good ideas, but her new husband doesn't care to hear them. She doesn't love him: "She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman" (pg. 25).The first chance she gets, Janie runs away with another man - a sharp-dressed stranger who promises adventure and new experiences in a "town all outa colored folks" (pg. 28) called Eatonville farther south in Florida. Joe Starks catches Janie's interest because "he spoke for far horizon. He spoke for change and chance" (pg. 29).Janie becomes the wife of the mayor and richest man in town, but in exchange she has to learn to keep quiet and do as she's told. It's no life for the smart and spirited Janie, but she lives it for years until her husband dies.When Janie finally insists on living the life she's always wanted, she learns everything she's been missing about love, freedom, happiness, and even grief. Her adventures take her from Jacksonville, FL, down to the Everglades.One fascinating and significant aspect of the novel is it's emphasis on oral history. Janie, having returned to Eatonville, tells her friend Pheoby her life story: "'If they wants to see and know, why they don't come kiss and be kissed? Ah could then sit down and tell 'em things. Ah been a delegate to de big 'ssociation of life. Yessuh! De Grand Lodge, de big convention of livin' is just where Ah been dis year and a half y'all ain't seen me.' "They sat there in the fresh young darkness close together. Phoeby eager to feel and do through Janie, but hating to show her zest for fear it might be thought mere curiosity. Janie full of that oldest human longing - self revelation" (pg. 6-7).Her initial aim is to explain to Pheoby where she's been and what she's been doing, but she soon realizes that "'tain't no use in me telling you somethin' unless Ah give you de understandin' to go 'long wit it. Unless you see de fur, a mink skin ain't no different from a coon hide" (pg. 7). So she starts the story from the beginning. Oral histories are, of course, very important culturally for the African American community. As slaves, most didn't know how to read or write, so they told stories and sang songs. Janie's story becomes part of that tradition.Their Eyes Were Watching God is a masterpiece on many levels. It is a masterpiece of African American literature. It's a masterpiece of women's literature. It's a mixture of poetry and dialect. It's a novel about marriage and independence. It's a novel about love and money. It's a novel about self-sacrifice and self-fulfillment. Above all, it's a novel about men and women making their way through life.I can't recommend Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God enough. Novels don't get much better than this.more
Janie Crawford is a woman on a mission to find love. Married off by her grandmother at a very young age, Janie is convinced marriage means love. When that isn't the case she moves on to be the wife of Joe Starks who views her as nothing more than eye candy, a trophy to hang off his arm. After the death of Joe, Janie meets a younger man who goes by the name Tea Cake. Tea Cake convinces her to leave town with him and run off to the Everglades. Convinced she has found love at last Janie bends her personality to suit the new relationship she has entered. One of the most dramatic aspects of Their Eyes Were Watching God is that it does not have the ending one would expect. However, it is a pleasure to wade through the thick dialect and watch Janie grow.more
The book was written by Zora Hurston in 1937, and it was highly unusual for a woman of colour to be a successful author in the southern USA at the time. This short book is the story of the second generation of black women to live 'free' in the southern USA. She is being raised by her grandmother who is a housemaid. One of the first things I noticed in this book is the two very different styles of writing. The narrator opens up a description of men's and women's hopes and dreams and describes the granddaughter, who until she saw herself in a photograph at age 6 or so had no idea she was black. The conversations among people themselves is full of expressions and a style of speaking that takes some getting used to but gives you a better picture of how a largely ignored population people talked at the time. (rough paraphrase as I don't have the book with me: "you know you can talk to me.. I am like a chicken.. I drink water in but I don't put any out"). When her grandmother is dying she marries her grandaughter off to her version of a successful coloured person (meaning owns land to work). You then follow her story through three husbands: The cold farmer, the even colder store owner/mayor, and finally the younger gambler. All three give you a much better insight to the time.It took me a while to get into the 'lingo' of the book, but it was well worth reading. A short read that you should add to mount TBR.more
Setting: This story about life's journey is set in Florida during the 1920s.Plot: Janie follows 3 husbands in pursuit of happiness and independence.Characters: Janie (protagonist) beautiful, naive; Logan- Janie's 1st husband; Joe- her 2nd husband; Tea Cake- 3rd husband; Townspeople- (antagonist)Symbols: the mule, 3 houses, 3 husbands, hurricaneCharacteristics: moved between prose and poetic prose, biblical allusionsMy reaction: I enjoyed the story because it could be read with out worrying about the symbolsmore
This novel is the story of fair-skinned Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, racism, discrimination and loss. I found the novel interesting and enjoyed the character of Janie. What a resilient woman. I would give this a 4.5 stars out of 5.more
This was a great discovery. The language is brilliant, poetic, and strong. Loved every moment and it led me to research on Harlem Renaissance.more
A wonderful story of a woman coming into her own that should be listened to, to be fully appreciated and understood because of the southern black dialogue which is heavy in some place. Their Eyes Were Watching God, an American classic, is the luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930s, whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to 70 years.This poetic, graceful love story, rooted in Black folk traditions and steeped in mythic realism, celebrates boldly and brilliantly African-American culture and heritage. And in a powerful, mesmerizing narrative, it pays quiet tribute to a Black woman who, though constricted by the times, still demanded to be heard.Originally published in 1937 and long out of print, the book was reissued in 1975 and nearly three decades later Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered a seminal novel in American fiction.Performed by Ruby Deemore
Absolutely hated this book.Stupid concept, stupid writing style.It really just was boringmore
Loved it .Can"t help but think this would make a great movie. The section describing the hurricane was immaculate .I could actually feel the terror of that nightmare storm.more
I remember adoring this book the first time I read it. So much so, that when I was sharing with a new-found friend the books I found most amazing, this one sprang immediately to mind. She didn't care for it though, and on reread though I still love it, I think I can understand why this wouldn't appeal to everyone. First of all, the dialogue is written in American Black dialect, complete with elisions and phonetic spellings. It makes it a struggle to read, even tedious at times trying to wrest meaning from the words. Not as difficult as unmodernized Chaucer perhaps, but harder to parse I think than Shakespeare. Harder than Alice Walker's The Color Purple or Toni Morrison's Beloved, both of which I read recently. Yet like Chaucer or Shakespeare, there's true poetry in the prose. Right in the second chapter was my favorite passage, among the most extraordinary I've read in literature, where through describing a blossoming pear tree under which Janie Crawford shares her first kiss, we watch a girl come of age: 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 are lyrical passages that sing throughout the novel, striking lines that have the sparkling resonance of the best of literature. So yes, I think taking the time to see through the sometimes difficulties of reading this beyond rewarding. The story surrounds Janie Crawford, her road to self-awareness and love. Given clues in the text, I'd say the story spans from about 1899 when Janie would be sixteen to around 1928 or so. (The book describes what seems to be the Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928.) Janie doesn't really find love until she's about forty, after two husbands, with a man 15 years younger than she is, Tea Cake. (That love of a middle-aged woman with a much younger man was something that in itself I found refreshing.) Compared to her second husband, Joe Stark, who was the mayor of a black-run Florida town and entrepreneur, Tea Cake is poor, even feckless. He's no paragon, and Tea Cake and Janie's relationship with him will, I think, be the other major issue some may have with the book. At one point Tea Cake takes 200 dollars of her money off Janie without telling her and spends it foolishly, and another time to show she belongs to him, he slaps her around. Yet Thurston does show his appeal, why Janie flourishes and grows with him, especially after her loveless marriages with repressive husbands. As she tells her friend Pheoby: He kin take most any lil thing and make summertime out of it when times is dull. Then we lives offa dat happiness he made till some mo' happiness come along. He makes her laugh. He brings back to her the joy she felt under that blossoming pear tree when she was young and dreams were still possible. And if there's poverty and tragedy in their story, there's also no bitterness, no self-pity, but a love of life that imbues this book with light despite dark events. So yes, this is an American classic, and rightly so.more
My greatest interest in this book was from a woman's perspective. The main character flounders through attempts at freedom yet continuously finds herself entrapped in relationships where abuse and limitations occur. Unfortunately, this remains a problem for women. The look for satisfaction or to have the world widened for them via a relationship and discover that the opposite occurs. One of the significant differences between this book and most others from this time (and later) is how frankly it handles the subject of money and how it affects relationships. Janie, the main character, eventually becomes financially independent and thus able to make choices about men regardless of their ability to provide for her. Some people refer to her as having an independent spirit or as finding herself but I see her as always following someone, from her grandmother to Tea Cake. It would be worthwhile to discuss Janie's choices with a group of pre-teen or teenage girls. It's a shame Hurston didn't continue the book into her life without Tea Cake.Much as I liked this book, it had some pointed flaws. Being the anthropologist that she is, she too often falls into watching the men tell tales or trade language on the porch and loses track of the supposed heroine. The black vernacular didn't bother me because she uses it very consistently. It's rarely confusing. There are also incongruous events, like Tea Cake hitting Janie when we haven't been led to believe he would do that, just the opposite. I was also disappointed by how undeveloped Janie's relationship with her friend Phoeby was. She was less a character in the story than a devise.One of the aspects of this novel I liked most was its complexity. Hurston juggles race, gender, and poverty and we see their interrelations shift and change. This is a book I'll keep on my shelf and has made me curious about Hurston's autobiography.more
I decided to read this book because my son had to read it when he was in high school, which was only last year. Their Eyes Ere Watching God was an interesting read. I really don't know what I was expecting when I saw the title. I don't know if I would have read the book if my son didn't have to read it for school.I found the language to be difficult to understand at first. I found myself reading aloud to really understand some of what the characters were saying. The story is being told by Janie to her friend Phoeby. Janie had been married when she was very young and this is the story of her marriages and life.Everyone in Janie's original town is talking because she comes back after running off with a younger fellow after she becomes a widow. Her friend Phoeby tells her everyone is talking about her and they want to know where Tea Cake is. The story was interesting to see how Janie grew up during her marriages.more
UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL!The poetry and writing skills blow your mind. The way the voice changes from third person to Janie, as she gains her voice is fantastic.This is one of the best books I've ever read!more
This novel from a Harlem Renaissance author was panned when it was first published because it was not in step with the protest tradition of the period. The main character, Janie, is on a journey of self-discovery that is a delight to read for all the usual reasons a good book is a "good book." Additionally, Janie is a woman who survived. "Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, tings done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches (8). Raised by her grandmother, in the shadow of the grandmother's white employer, Janie did not realize she was not white until she saw herself in a photograph. She endured a hideous arranged marriage to a man she found revolting, flood, hunger, loneliness, and finally her lover's agonizing death at her hand, but also came to her own understanding of love and life, and more importantly, herself. A great read.more
Captivating. Janie's progressive empowerment is a wonder to behold. As I read somewhere, we watch her move from object to subject. Her passion for life, and fervent belief that marriage should and can mean more, are inspiring. This is a great adventure story, but one that contains a deep and insightful character study.more
Although I was mentally engaged in this book very quickly, it never engaged my emotions. I felt like an observer rather than a participant in the life of the protagonist, Janie. Maybe it's due to the way Janie narrates her own story. At the point in time that the narration occurs, Janie has moved somewhere beyond her initial emotions about the events of her life to reflection and acceptance. I didn't know until after I finished the book that Hurston was an anthropologist, so perhaps her intent was to appeal more to the mind than to the emotions.I was surprised that race wasn't more of a factor in the book. Race was always there in the background, but Janie's main conflict was with her role as a wife, not with her lot as an African American. The reader learns fairly early that Janie was the first generation in her family born in freedom, yet Janie wasn't allowed to define freedom for herself. For Janie's grandmother, Nanny, freedom meant that Janie could live the life of ease that Nanny dreamed of. For Janie's first two husbands, freedom meant that the husband would do his wife's thinking for her. None of them thought of asking Janie what she wanted. Although Janie was outwardly cooperative, she withheld her affection from those who crushed her spirit. Janie finally began to experience freedom as a widow.I liked this book, but didn't love it, so I'm not likely to discover the richness of meaning that would come through multiple readings. It's a book that will stimulate discussion, making it a great choice for the NEA's Big Read program.more
I'm surprised "When Their Eyes Were Watching God" was disparaged by prominent black writers in 1937 when it was published, and I'm glad the book went from near extinction to broad circulation in the 70's and 80's. It's raw and yet nuanced, and has characters who are strong and yet frail. It's certainly worth reading.Quotes:On dreams, men and women (these are the first lines of the book; what a great opening):"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."On lust:"The men noticed her firm buttocks like she had grape fruits in her hip pockets; the great rope of black hair swinging to her waist and unraveling in the wind like a plume; then her pugnacious breasts trying to bore holes in her shirt."On life:"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."On white people:"Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it's some 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 women is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see."On perseverance:"But nothing can't stop you from wishin'. You can't beat nobody down so low till you can rob 'em of they will. An didn't want to be used for a work-ox and a brood-sow and Ah didn't want mah daughter used dat way neither. It sho wasn't mah will for things to happen lak they did. Ah even hated de way you was born. But, all de same Ah said thank God, Ah got another chance. Ah wanted to preach a great sermon about colored women sittin' on high, but they wasn't no pulpit for me."On marriage:'Did marriage end the cosmic loneliness of the unmated? Did marriage compel love like the sun the day?"and later:"She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman."On the human condition, and human potential:"When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another, but the mud is deaf and dumb. Like al the other trembling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine."On passion:"The fought on. 'You done hurt mah heart, now you come wid uh like tuh bruise mah ears! Turn go mah hands!' Janie seethed. But Tea Cake never let go. They wrestled on until they were doped with their own fumes and emanations; till their clothes had been torn away; till he hurled her to the floor and held her there melting her resistance with the heat of his body, doing things with their bodies to express the inexpressible; kissed her until she arched her body to meet him and they fell asleep in sweet exhaustion."On God:"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."On love:"...love ain't somethin' lak uh grindstone dat's de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touches. 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."more
A great book about relationships. The people were real and interesting. It was written from a black, female perspective and yet most of it was true of all relationships. The only set back was it was mostly dialogue and it was written in the way they spoke so that was hard to read.more
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