Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Overview

This novel about a proud, independent black woman was first published in 1937 and generally dismissed by reviewers. It was out of print for nearly 30 years when the University of Illinois Press reissued it in 1978, at which time it was instantly embraced by the literary establishment as one of the greatest works in the canon of African-American fiction.

Mesmerizing in its immediacy and haunting in its subtlety, Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of Janie ...

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Overview

This novel about a proud, independent black woman was first published in 1937 and generally dismissed by reviewers. It was out of print for nearly 30 years when the University of Illinois Press reissued it in 1978, at which time it was instantly embraced by the literary establishment as one of the greatest works in the canon of African-American fiction.

Mesmerizing in its immediacy and haunting in its subtlety, Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of Janie Crawford—fair-skinned, long-haired, dreamy woman—who comes of age expecting better treatment than what she gets from her three husbands and community. Then she meets Tea Cake, a younger man who captivates Janie's heart and spirit, and offers her the chance to relish life without being one man's mule or another man's adornment.

Initially published in 1937, this novel about a proud, independent black woman's quest for identity, a journey that takes her through three marriages and back to her roots, has been one of the most widely read and highly acclaimed novels in the canon of African-American literature.

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Editorial Reviews

AudioFile
Dee is marvelous in all roles in this stage-worthy performance.
Heard Word
. . . thanks to this audiobook, Zora's characters speak to us - through the wonderful voice of Ruby Dee.
Saturday Review
A classic of black literature, Their Eyes Were Watching God belongs in the same category — with that of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway — of enduring American literature.
Sacred Fire
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston draws a sharp portrait of a proud, independent black woman looking for her own identity and resolving not to live lost in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or romantic dreams. Like most lives of black women of the early 20th century (or any time for that matter), Janie Crawford's life, told here in her own sure voice, is not without its frustrations, terrors, and tragedies — in fact, it is full of them. But the power of her story comes from her life-affirming attitude: Through all the changes she goes through — once divorced, twice widowed (once by her own gun-wielding hand)-she kept a death-grip commitment to live on her own terms, relying only on her own guts, creativity, strength, and passion, and the power she drew from her community, to pull her through. In Janie, Hurston created a character that reflected her own strong belief that the most important mission we have is to discover ourselves.

Janie Crawford was raised in the household of her grandmother, Nanny Crawford, a maid and a former slave. Janie, like her mother before her, was born of rape, and Nanny is committed to protecting her from the sexual and racial violence she and her daughter endured. She pushes Janie into marriage with an older man named Logan Killicks, a farmer with some property. Her life with Killicks is full of boredom and hard labor, so she runs off with Joe Starks, a handsome and well-off storekeeper who moves her to the all-black town of Eatonville, Florida. Even with the prestige and security this new marriage brings, she is bored and unfulfilled by her stunted life with Starks. When Starks dies, Janie begins to live with Tea Cake Woods, a man who cannot provide her with the stability that her Nanny taught her to value, but who finally gives her the passion and satisfaction she'd been looking for all along. Even when further tragedy greets her, she maintains a staunchly positive view of the future.

Hurston, an anthropologist and folklorist, fills this novel with shotgun rhythms and the poetic language of her native south. Language in this novel is crucial; it is through the beautiful self- made idiosyncrasies of southern speech and storytelling that Janie expresses her own will toward self-definition. Their Eyes Were Watching God has been called the first African American feminist novel because of its portrayal of a strong black woman rebelling against society's restrictions — and the received wisdom of her Nanny, no less — to seek out her own destiny. But ultimately, this is not a novel that looks out to the world to make political protest or social commentary; it concerns itself with describing the power that lies within us to define ourselves and our lives as we see fit, unbound and unfettered by society's limitations and prejudices. As Alice Walker once wrote, "There is enough self-love in that one book — love of community, culture, traditions — to restore a world."

Saturday Review
A classic of black literature, Their Eyes Were Watching God belongs in the same category -- with that of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway -- of enduring American literature." -- Saturday Review
From Barnes & Noble
The classic story of light-skinned Janie Crawford's evolving selfhood through three marriages. A novel that "...belongs in the same category with that of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway.''--Saturday Review.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606044011
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/1/1990
  • Format: Library Binding

Meet the Author

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama, in 1891, and died in 1960. In addition to her most celebrated work, the 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston's books include The Six Fools, Lies and Other Tall Tales, The Skull Talks Back, and What's the Hurry, Fox?, which speak to her legacy as a storyteller and cultural anthropologist.

Biography

During the 1920s, African-American culture in the United States received an exhilarating shot in the arm in the era known as the Harlem Renaissance. For the first time, black American art, music, and literature was being taken seriously among the intelligentsia as a significant force in contemporary culture. At the front of that movement were several writers, including Zora Neale Hurston.

Hurston's work reflected the liberation and experimentation of post-war America. She published stories and co-founded the groundbreaking journal Fire! with poet Langston Hughes and novelist Wallace Thurman. By the ‘30s, Hurston was a bestselling writer, but with the Renaissance on the wane and a new era of politics, economic depression, and the "social realism" movement, Hurston's once glorious literary career was running into dire straits. She would end her life destitute, practically forgotten, buried in an unmarked grave in Florida. However, a resurgence of interest in her work during the 1970s and the tireless work of writer Alice Walker would help reestablish Hurston in her rightful place as one of America's greatest and most influential writers.

Born in Eatonville, Florida, in 1891 to a father who was a Baptist preacher, Hurston was well-versed from birth in the dynamics of the Southern black experience. She brought that keen vision to her writing and published her first story in the Howard University literary magazine while attending the school in 1921. Still, it was not until Hurston moved to New York City in 1925 that she really began to make waves on the literary scene. Her writing was characterized by its unflagging honesty and strength, qualities that Hurston herself exuded. She often ruffled feathers by refusing to adhere to the constricting gender conventions prevalent at the time. This strength and self-confidence was already apparent in the writer's very first works. Her debut novel Jonah's Gourde Vine was praised by The New York Times as "the most vital and original novel about the American Negro that has yet been written by a member of the Negro race." Her second was a bona fide classic, Mules and Men, a compendium of African American folk tales, songs, and maxims that drew on Hurston's extensive studies in Anthropology.

By the time Hurston published her signature work Their Eyes Were Watching God, the freestyle experimentalism of the Harlem Renaissance was being increasingly overcast by the Great Depression. As a result, a backlash ensued. Their Eyes Were Watching God, which told of a woman named Janie Crawford who goes through three marriages to separate men as she struggles to realize herself, was too steeped in the experimentalism of the Renaissance to please critics. Furthermore, her portrayal of a black woman's search for personal liberation was too much for many black men to stomach. Richard Wright, the acclaimed author of Native Son, even dismissed Their Eyes Were Watching God for not being "serious fiction." Today, such criticism may seem absurd, or at the very least, incredibly short-sighted, but at the time, Hurston's daring prose was not in vogue amongst the social realists.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, instead, displays a true structural adventurousness, splitting between the eloquence of the narrative voice and the idiomatic, ungrammatical dialogue of the black, southern characters. While works of the social realism movement were easily categorized by their left-wing politics and gritty delivery, Their Eyes Were Watching God was less simple to pigeonhole. It is at once a product of the Harlem Renaissance, an example of Southern literature along the lines of Faulkner, and a work of feminist literature. Consequently, the novel was criticized for being out of step with the times, and it went out of print very shortly after being published, leading to the collapse of Hurston's career and her standing as a significant literary figure.

Hurston would die in 1960, back in Florida, destitute, forgotten. Her books long unavailable, her death barely registered. She would not return to the public eye until 1975, when Alice Walker published an essay titled "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston" in Ms. magazine. Along with other writer including Robert Hemenway and Tony Cade Bambara, Walker went on a crusade to revitalize Hurston's career fifteen years after the writer's death.

When Their Eyes Were Watching God was finally republished, it was reevaluated as a classic. Today, the novel is required reading in universities all over the country, and Hurston is widely acknowledged as one of the first great African-American women writers. As a final tribute to her idol, Walker also traveled to Florida where Hurston is buried and placed a marker on her grave, a long-overdue tribute to a great American writer reading with beautiful simplicity: "Zora Neale Hurston: Genius of the South."

Good To Know

Hurston's earliest work was a comedic play called Mule Bone, which she co-wrote with Langston Hughes. However, the play would not be performed until 1991 due to an arduous legal battle that also brought an untimely end to the friendship between Hurston and Hughes.

Spike Lee's audacious debut film She's Gotta Have It has been viewed by some as a hip adaptation of Their Eyes Were Watching God, and the fact that the film opens with a quotation from Zora Neale Hurston may prove such theories correct.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      January 7, 1891
    2. Place of Birth:
      Eatonville, Florida
    1. Date of Death:
      January 28, 1960
    2. Place of Death:
      Fort Pierce, Florida
    1. Education:
      B.A., Barnard College, 1928 (the school's first black graduate). Went on to study anthropology at Columbia University.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


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 judgment.

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 judgment.

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 mass cruelty. A mood come alive, Words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song.

"What shedoin coming back here in dem overhalls? Can't she find 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? — Thought she was going 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?"

When she got to where they were she turned her face on the bander log and spoke. They scrambled a noisy "good evenin'" and left their mouths setting open and their ears full of hope. Her speech was pleasant enough, but she kept walking straight on to her gate. The porch couldn't talk for looking.

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 b ore holes in her shirt. They, the men, were saving with the mind what they lost with the eye. The women took the faded shirt and muddy overalls and laid them away for remembrance. It was a weapon against her strength and if it turned out of no significance, still it was a hope that she might fall to their level some day.

But nobody moved, nobody spoke, nobody even thought to swallow spit until after her gate slammed behind her.

Pearl Stone opened her mouth and laughed real hard because she didn't know what else to do. She fell all over Mrs. Sumpkins while she laughed. Mrs. Sumpkins snorted violently and sucked her teeth.

"Humph! Y'all let her worry yuh. You ain't like me. Ah ain't got her to study 'bout. If she ain't got manners enough to stop and let folks know how she been malkin' out, let her g'wan! "

"She ain't even worth talkin' after," Lulu Moss drawled through her nose. "She sits high, but she looks low. Dat's what Ah say 'bout dese ole women runnin' after young boys."

Pheoby Watson hitched her rocking chair forward before she spoke. "Well, nobody don't know if it's anything to tell or not. Me, Ah'm her best friend, and Ah don't know."

"Maybe us don't know into things lak, you do, but we all know how she went 'way from here and us sho seen her come back. 'Tain't no use in your tryin' to cloak no ole woman lak Janie Starks, Pheoby, friend or no friend."

"At dat she ain't so ole as some of y'all dat's talking."

"She's way past forty to my knowledge, Pheoby."

"No more'n forty at de outside."

"She's 'way too old for a boy like Tea Cake."

"Tea Cake ain't been no boy for some time. He's round thirty his ownself."

"Don't keer what it was, she could stop and say a few words with us. She act like we done done something to her," Pearl Stone complained. "She de one been doin' wrong."

"You mean, you mad 'cause she didn't stop and tell us all her business; Anyhow, what you ever know her to do so bad as y'all make out? The worst thing Ah ever knowedher to do was taking a few years offa her age and dat ain't never harmed nobody. Y'all makes me tired. De way you talkin' you'd think de folks in dis town didn't do nothin' in de bed 'cept praise de Lawd. You have to 'scuse me, 'cause Ah'm bound to go take her some supper." Pheoby stood up sharply.

"Don't mind us," Lulu smiled, "just go right ahead, us can mind yo' house for you till you git back. Mah supper is done. You bettah go see how she feel. You kin let de rest of us know."

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword xi
Their Eyes Were Watching God 1
Note on Publication History 229
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First Chapter

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Chapter One


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 judgment.

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 judgment.

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 mass 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 find 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? -- Thought she was going 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?"

When she got to where they were she turned her face on the bander log and spoke. They scrambled a noisy "good evenin'" and left their mouths setting open and their ears full of hope. Her speech was pleasant enough, but she kept walking straight on to her gate. The porch couldn't talk for looking.

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 b ore holes in her shirt. They, the men, were saving with the mind what they lost with the eye. The women took the faded shirt and muddy overalls and laid them away for remembrance. It was a weapon against her strength and if it turned out of no significance, still it was a hope that she might fall to their level some day.

But nobody moved, nobody spoke, nobody even thought to swallow spit until after her gate slammed behind her.

Pearl Stone opened her mouth and laughed real hard because she didn't know what else to do. She fell all over Mrs. Sumpkins while she laughed. Mrs. Sumpkins snorted violently and sucked her teeth.

"Humph! Y'all let her worry yuh. You ain't like me. Ah ain't got her to study 'bout. If she ain't got manners enough to stop and let folks know how she been malkin' out, let her g'wan! "

"She ain't even worth talkin' after," Lulu Moss drawled through her nose. "She sits high, but she looks low. Dat's what Ah say 'bout dese ole women runnin' after young boys."

Pheoby Watson hitched her rocking chair forward before she spoke. "Well, nobody don't know if it's anything to tell or not. Me, Ah'm her best friend, and Ah don't know."

"Maybe us don't know into things lak, you do, but we all know how she went 'way from here and us sho seen her come back. 'Tain't no use in your tryin' to cloak no ole woman lak Janie Starks, Pheoby, friend or no friend."

"At dat she ain't so ole as some of y'all dat's talking."

"She's way past forty to my knowledge, Pheoby."

"No more'n forty at de outside."

"She's 'way too old for a boy like Tea Cake."

"Tea Cake ain't been no boy for some time. He's round thirty his ownself."

"Don't keer what it was, she could stop and say a few words with us. She act like we done done something to her," Pearl Stone complained. "She de one been doin' wrong."

"You mean, you mad 'cause she didn't stop and tell us all her business; Anyhow, what you ever know her to do so bad as y'all make out? The worst thing Ah ever knowedher to do was taking a few years offa her age and dat ain't never harmed nobody. Y'all makes me tired. De way you talkin' you'd think de folks in dis town didn't do nothin' in de bed 'cept praise de Lawd. You have to 'scuse me, 'cause Ah'm bound to go take her some supper." Pheoby stood up sharply.

"Don't mind us," Lulu smiled, "just go right ahead, us can mind yo' house for you till you git back. Mah supper is done. You bettah go see how she feel. You kin let de rest of us know."

Their Eyes Were Watching God. Copyright © by Zora Hurston. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary
Under "a blossoming pear tree" in West Florida, sixteen-year-old Janie Mae Crawford dreams of a world that will answer all her questions and waits "for the world to be made." But her grandmother, who has raised her from birth, arranges Janie's marriage to an older local farmer. So begins Janie's journey toward herself and toward the farthest horizon open to her. Zora Neale Hurston's classic 1937 novel follows Janie from her Nanny's plantation shack, to Logan Killicks's farm, to all-black Eatonville, to the Everglades, and back to Eatonville--where she gathers in "the great fish-net" of her life. Janie's joyless marriage to Killicks lasts until Joe Starks passes by, on his way to becoming "a big voice." Joe becomes mayor of Eatonville and is just as determined as Killicks was to keep Janie in her proper place. Through twenty years with Joe, she continues to cope, hope, and dream; and after Joe's death, she is once again "ready for her great journey," a journey she now undertakes with one Vergible Woods, a.k.a. Tea Cake. Younger than Janie, Tea Cake nevertheless engages both her heart and her spirit. With him Janie can finally enjoy life without being one man's mule or another's bauble. Their eventful life together "on de muck" of the Everglades eventually brings Janie to another of her life's turning points; and after burying Tea Cake, she returns to a gossip-filled Eatonville, where she tells her story to her best friend, Pheoby Watson, and releases Pheoby to tell that story to the others. Janie has "done been tuh de horizon and back." She has learned what love is; she has experienced life's joys andsorrows; and she has come home to herself in peace.

Discussion Topics
1. What kind of God are 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?

Author Bio: In her award-winning autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road (1942), Zora Neale Hurston claimed to have been born in Eatonville, Florida, in 1901. She was, in fact, born in Notasulga, Alabama, on January 7, 1891, the fifth child of John Hurston (farmer, carpenter, and Baptist preacher) and Lucy Ann Potts (school teacher). The author of numerous books, including Their Eyes Were Watching God, Jonah's Gourd Vine, Mules and Men, and Moses, Man of the Mountain, Hurston had achieved fame and sparked controversy as a novelist, anthropologist, outspoken essayist, lecturer, and theatrical producer during her sixty-nine years. Hurston's finest work of fiction appeared at a time when artistic and political statements--whether single sentences or book-length fictions--were peculiarly conflated. Many works of fiction were informed by purely political motives; political pronouncements frequently appeared in polished literary prose. And Hurston's own political statements, relating to racial issues or addressing national politics, did not ingratiate her with her black male contemporaries. The end result was that Their Eyes Were Watching God went out of print not long after its first appearance and remained out of print for nearly thirty years. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has been one among many to ask: "How could the recipient of two Guggenheims and the author of four novels, a dozen short stories, two musicals, two books on black mythology, dozens of essays, and a prizewinning autobiography virtually 'disappear' from her readership for three full decades?"

That question remains unanswered. The fact remains that every one of Hurston's books went quickly out of print; and it was only through the determined efforts, in the 1970s, of Alice Walker, Robert Hemenway (Hurston's biographer), Toni Cade Bambara, and other writers and scholars that all of her books are now back in print and that she has taken her rightful place in the pantheon of American authors.

In 1973, Walker, distressed that Hurston's writings had been all but forgotten, found Hurston's grave in the Garden of Heavenly Rest and installed a gravemarker. "After loving and teaching her work for a number of years," Walker later reported, "I could not bear that she did not have a known grave." The gravemarker now bears the words that Walker had inscribed there:

ZORA NEALE HURSTON
GENIUS OF THE SOUTH
NOVELIST FOLKLORIST ANTHROPOLOGIST
(1891-1960)

About the Author: In Brief
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage are unparalleled. She Is the author of many books, including Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dust Tracks on a Road, Tell My Horse, and Mules and Men.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 112 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I enjoyed it.

    This is one of the most memorable books I think I've read so far. I was only around the age of 13 when my sister lended me the book, and 2 years later I'm still able to look back at the characters and the way it touched me.Some parts of the book were very challenging especially for my intellect at the time, but I would still reccomend this book to anyone who wants to learn about things in the past. I read it once and I'm looking forward to reading it again...

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2000

    Outstanding

    Ships at a distances has every man wishing aboard. What a fantastic way to use imagery! Words that have stuck out in my mind for about 5 years. This book has many themes that people of all races can relate to.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2003

    Embarassment to Women Everywhere

    This is the most god awful book I've ever read. The submissiveness of Janie is disgusting, it is impossible for her to stand on her own two feet. This book is pointless, and it's only plot is a woman who keeps finding other men to run to after her marriages crumble as an escape route from her current town

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2000

    This book is horriblle

    this book is very very bad. almost anything you could possibly buy would be better than this book.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2003

    hurstons 'their eyes were watching god'

    I would just like to say this is one of the worst books i have every read;however i have to continue reading untill i'm completely finsihed because this book is for my english class. my advice is to stay away from this book. DEFINETY NOT A EASY READ!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2000

    Best novel I've read

    Their Eyes.....was the best novel that I've read throughout highschool. I like the way Zora symbotically describes love and men throughout the novel to the ways of nature.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2010

    abridged version

    Be sure to note that this is an abridged version of the text and not the complete work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2006

    Were their eyes really watching God?

    Their eyes were watching God was an alright book. To me, they just sat around and talked about on another. If your into gossip I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2006

    True Love

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It taught me the value of love and the true mean of it. This book just shows that you can't buy or love or just learn to love someone that you are put with. You can only love someone when it is true love. Janie spends her whole life looking for love and then when she finally finds it she ends up still sad and alone at the end of the story. I think that this story can teach anyone the true meaning of love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2006

    My review on this great book.

    Their Eyes were watching God is the story of Janie Crawford¿s search for love. The author begins the novel with the end. In the first pages Janie returns to her hometown Eatonville after two years of absence. Janie tells her story to her friend Pheoby Watson. Janie tells Pheoby how she searched for love through three different men that she married. Her first husband was Logan Killicks, an old potato farmer, who Janie¿s grandmother believed offered security. Janie¿s second marriage, with Joe Starks, lasted twenty years and brought her wealth, but Joe¿s priority was money and power. He had no idea of Janie¿s simple wish to be respected and loved. Janie¿s third husband was Tea Cake, a migrant worker twelve years younger than her. As a youngster Janie dreamed of love and wondered whether love would come with marriage. Over twenty years and three marriages Janie experiences both love and personal growth. I loved Janie¿s dreamy ways in her story, and I was delighted to discover how Janie finally found what it was like¿to love and to be loved. My favorite part of Their Eyes Were Watching God is that Zora Neale Hurston wrote in language dialect. The dialect gets readers into the characters and makes the story seem more real. The reading is hard in the beginning but once I became accustomed to the style, it was easy to follow. I highly recommend this book for young women because it has a strong message of Independence and love. It¿s good to learn from these kinds of experiences.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2006

    An outstanding story

    Their Eyes Were Watching God was one of the best books that I've ever read. The book answered a lot of questions about life. We are faced with several conflicts in humanity with choices having to be made between Love, Good, Evil, Hope or reality, and Truth. It is a story about Janie, a young black woman, who tries to find herself through her grandmother's footsteps and eventually confronts herself to become the person she knows is of her own good. Taken along the memory lane in a small southern black town, 'Their Eyes were Watching God' is a beautiful portrayal of the conflicts confronting Janie, not only about herself but also about how her society perceives her. Through an amazing creativity in characters, plot development, excellent narrative, lessons and dialogues and an easy ride through time, Zora successful made the reader to understand and appreciate black culture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2006

    Not very good

    In my opinion, this is a boring book. The two main topics it addresses, race and love, are extremely cliche, and therefore boring. The only part somewhat entertaining was the part when Janie lived in the town with Jodie. Some funny parts here, but they quickly dissolved into meaningless mush once again. There is nothing new, interesting, or relevent to be found here. Avoid.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2006

    The best novel I have ever read!

    ¿Now love is like the sea, always moving and different on every shore.¿ (Taken from Their Eyes Were Watching God, this quote was said by Janie Crawford.) Zora Neale Hurston takes readers through life of Janie Crawford, the protagonist. Symbolically, during her troubling moments, Janie `watches God¿ while lying in the blue, cool water and staring into the deep, cloudy sky. She is a young, beautiful, and confused woman who searches her whole life for true love. Hurston follows Janie from ¿her nanny¿s plantation shack to Logan Killick¿s farm, to all-Black Eatonville, to the Everglades, and back to Eatonville¿. Along the way, Janie Crawford ¿learns what love is, experiences life¿s joys and sorrows, and comes home in peace to herself.¿ The author of this novel includes southern dialect in this story, which makes it hard to understand. Even though, I had to read over and over this dialect, it made the story interesting. It puts the reader in that time and helps the person understand the story better, which is why I liked the southern dialect. I mostly enjoyed Hurston¿s writing style. She made me want to think about what I was reading not just read something and not concentrate. This novel also taught me a great lesson about love. It taught me that I person could have all the material things they wanted, but not be truly happy because they do not have love. I would really recommend this book to everyone, especially women. It is by far the best novel I have ever read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2005

    'Loved It'

    I loved this book. I believe everywoman in the world has a little Janie in them. My favorite part of the book was the burning of the headrags. She had a newfound freedom. Finally realizing that she was free to do as she wanted. At first i didn't know what the mule had to do with the story until a College Professor helped me out. How it is symbolic. It is Janie. Working and never being free to do as the others. All in all it was a good book and i suggest everyone read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2005

    Their Eyes Were Watching God¿

    This is a story of a black woman, Janie, trying to find her place and purpose in the world. As Janie tells her friend her life story, full of both happy tales and sad ones, we are shown how she changes from a wistful child, to `one man¿s mule,¿ to a possession of yet another, and finally to a woman who knows where she stands. Zora Neale Hurston, the author of this book, writes using slang which draws us deeper and deeper into the setting of the book. Although at first it took a while (for me anyway) to figure out exactly what was being said (having to sound out each word as I read), I quickly fell in step with all of the `den¿s (then) and `dat¿s (that), thoroughly enjoying the southern jargon. Over all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I enjoyed both the historical aspect (life for blacks in the south after slavery) and the story line itself. Historically, the book takes place sometime after the end of the Civil War. Janie and Jody (her second husband) take off to create the first town of only blacks. It was interesting to see a glimpse of this era from this perspective. I would heartily recommend this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2005

    a dramatic, dragged out novel

    The novel ' There Eyes Were Watching God' is overall a good book. There are times during novel which are dragged out and can become boring. Although other critics believe the main character, Janie, was a strong, independent woman, I feel that she was undecisive and sometimes cruel. The novel covered all the emotions such as happy, sad, pain, and loss which was an advantage that helped the novel have more adventure. I feel the novel was blurry and not well written, and did not have a high climax. Although there are many weak points during the novel, it does have good morals.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2005

    'Love vs. Happiness?'

    Hurtson has an interesting way of writing. In Their Eyes Were Watching God ,Hurston wanted the reader to understand Janie's life. She wanted the reader to take the life changing journey with Janie. The southern dialect in this book made the readers mind go to another level. Reading this book cause me to have a better outlook on love, life and happiness. Janie found herself in love alot but she never new happiness until she found it.Janie never traveled this journey alone, and her eyes never stop watching God.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2005

    Off-Tha-Chain!!!! READ IT!!

    Okay,for the most part, I dont like reading, but this book TRULY takes you somewhere and not just through a women's journey for love and acceptance but everyday human experiences throughout life. I LOVE THIS BOOK!! READ IT!! I know you'll enjoy it too!! =)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2005

    True Meaning of Love

    Great novel. I really enjoyed the very detailed life it accomplishes to show of black america and how they lived. Very good!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2005

    Great Afican-American novel

    This book was excellent! When you get past the thick soutern dialect, it's actually a beautiful book. Mrs. Hurston uses all the right words to tell her story. A wonderful love-story and an even better coming-of-age story.10 stars!

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