Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston, Zora NealeIt is so easy to be hopeful in the daytime when you can see the things you wish on. But it was night, it stayed night. Night was striding across nothingness with the whole round world in his hands. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against cruel 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. The town of Eatonville is as real in these pages as Jacksonville is in the pages of Rand McNally; and the lives of its people are rich, racy, and authentic. The few white characters in the book appear momentarily and incidentally.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
It is considered her finest book. In lyrical prose influenced by folk tales that the author heard while assembling her anthology of African American folklore Mules and Men , Janie Crawford tells of her three marriages, her growing self-reliance, and her identity as a black woman. Much of the dialogue conveys psychological insight through plain speech written in dialect. Hurston manages to characterize these three very different men without resorting to caricature in the first two instances or idealization in the third. Janie is one of few fictional heroines of the period who is not punished for her sensual nature.
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by Zora Neale Hurston
Want more deets? In fact, there's so much in this novel that you'll find yourself wondering exactly how Hurston packed so much into such a slender text. The answer? Hurston was a genius. End of story. Their Eyes is very much a novel of its time in that it occupies and reflects a specific historical moment or two or three , but it is also—without being at all contradictory—a novel for all time. How does it pull that off, exactly?
Zora Neale Hurston was born in in Eatonville, Fla. She left home at the age of 17, finished high school in Baltimore, and went on to study at Howard University, Barnard College, and Columbia University before becoming one of the most prolific writers in the Harlem Renaissance. Her works included novels, essays, plays, and studies in folklore and anthropology. Her most productive years were the s and early s. It was during those years that she wrote her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road, worked with the Federal Writers Project in Florida, received a Guggenheim fellowship, and wrote four novels. She died penniless and in obscurity in and was buried in an unmarked grave. In , her grave was rediscovered and marked and her novels and autobiography have since been reprinted.