Their Eyes Were Watching God [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Overview

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.

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
Library Journal
★ 08/01/2014
This beloved 20th-century novel is expertly narrated by Ruby Dee, who sets a deliberate pace and does a wonderful job distinguishing among the characters.
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: 9780061758126
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 11,017
  • File size: 588 KB

Meet the Author

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston, the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, was deemed "one of the greatest writers of our time" by Toni Morrison. With the publication of Lies and Other Tall Tales, The Skull Talks Back, and What's the Hurry, Fox? new generations will be introduced to Hurston's legacy. She was born in Notasulga, Alabama, in 1891, and died in 1960.

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 and sorrows; 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?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 306 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 306 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Their Eyes Were Watching God

    My Review


    This review is about a book called "Their Eyes Were Watching God," by Zora Neale Hurston. If you wanted to now the genre of this book is a Western Romance type. If you like stories about the past in slavery time you will love this book. This book consists of many people since the setting is in the town of Eatonville in Florida. Main characters of the book consist of Janie, Jody Starks, and a young man by the name of Tea Cake. Supporting characters in the story are Nanny Crawford, Johnny Taylor, Pheoby Watson and Dr. Simmons. In more depth Janie is a really complex character in this book. She is beautiful, very intelligent, and powerful. Throughout this whole story she tries to find who and what she really is and fights through all of the obstacles and finds out that she is a powerful black women that doesn't need a man to support her. Another main character in this book is young sweet talking Tea Cake who is Janie's longest lover. Tea Cake plays a huge roll in this story. He teaches Janie many things and plays a crucial role in her development. He is a strong well rounded character with only great morals. This guy is the best guy out of the other two, first husband Logan Killicks and Jody Starks her second husband. In this story the setting is really significant because it is based in Florida a little bit after slavery has been abolished. Because of this there are many African-Americans who are just like Janie and Tea Cake trying to find a home and where they fit in life. The major conflict for the most part is that Janie can not stay with a man for her entire life and trying to figure out ultimately who she is. During the course of this story she is with three different guys. She leaves two of them and something happens to the other that I won't exactly tell what. One thing that is very special about this book is the dialect between characters. Throughout the whole story the characters don't speak proper english, they still have a sense of not being educated when they speak, but it sort of gives the book a good aspect and makes it more realistic. In this book there is a lot of conversations and dialect it's the majority of the book. You don't tend to get inside to the thoughts of characters. The point of view in this book is first person told from Janie's views. I'm a high school baseball player type of guy and I really honestly could say that I was pretty interested in this book. Even though it wouldn't be a book I regularly read. It took me for a ride through the life of Janie from childhood growing up to her late forties. There were thrills and excitement to starting a new town of only colored folks to disappointment and tragedy at the end of the book. All in all it was a thumbs up. A great read!!!!!

    28 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2013

    Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston's 'acclaimed' 1

    Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston's 'acclaimed' 1937 book is considered a 'staple' of the Harlem Renaissance. However,
    Their Eyes, as we shall call it for short, it perhaps one of the most dreadful books written by mankind. Once reading, one asks himself, why 
    hasn't mankind just given up on writing books?  Their Eyes tells the story of a black chick, who's something like like a third white and has
    white people hair, who marries three dudes (at different times, calm down) and does some crazy shizzle.  Her first husband doesn't fulfill
    granny's promise, and makes her till a field with a donkey, so he can sit on his drinking sweet tea. Consequently, another black dude comes
    to town, and after barely handing him a glass of sweet tea, she's off and married him (no divorce?) and heading to god only knows where.
    So this dude, named Jodie, develops a town called Eatonville, FL (FL being both Florida's abbreviation, and being symbolic because it is
    ForLosers).  Here comes the big shocker. He doesn't fulfill his promise and makes her work.  Here, ol' Zora makes the point that her hair
    is in a hair tie (one will come quickly to know that these people must be hair worshipers, and a barbershop must be a shrine to them),
    which is supposed to signify oppression, but its actually just tied up hair.  Anyways, in the middle of this, Zora goes on a trip of some kind
    (rearrange the letters of DSL and you'll know) , and writes about another donkey walking around the town biting children. It dies, so the town
    has a funeral for it, and a big group of talking cult vultures come and hop all over it until one tells that that it is food.  Skipping ahead, hubby
    #2 ceases, and she runs off with some tramp named Tea Cake (making her a cougar now).  Apparently Tea Cake is a cute name, so I will
    name my child hard tac so the think she's cute in the Army. Anyways, first night after being married (this time she doesn't need a divorce,
    since #2 is dead, although she wouldn't have had one anyways {technically still married to #1 though}), he steals her 'hidden' $200 and
    loses all but $15 bucks worth, and the next night, abandons her again, winning $315.  She loves him even more although he disappears
    without explanation their first two nights.  Next, they move to the everglades to go 'work in the muck', although they are living in a house, I
    dunno.  Tea Cake goes off wrestling in the mud with a chunkie girl named Lunkie (this is fo shizzle), and says she just took 'his tickets'.  This
    is reminiscent of the movie 'Young Frankenstein' when the cute blonde chick asks the scientist if he wants to 'roll in the hay', as she literally
    is in a wagon filled with hay, rolling in it.  So after much time, there is a hurricane. So now, Zora has another trip, and as everything floods,
    for so reason, they must save themselves from drowning (not the weird part).  So, naturally, as any loving husband would do in a developed
    town during a hurricane, he fights a rapid dog off a cow's back so they can save themselves.  He gets rabies, and goes insane.  He gets a
    gun, tries to shoot Janie, she wips out a shotgun from her mysterious invisible cartoon pocket, and kills him. They try her for murder, the
    white people give her an acquittal, and she throws a huge funeral.  Then, she goes back to Eatonville wearing overalls and a hair tie, again,
    an unfortunate cowgirl outfit makes her seem oppressed. The people there gossip, she goes to her bedroom where she used to fool around
    with #2, and thinks about #3, Tea Cake, and is finally happy.

    Moral of the story? First: No guy will EVER like this book. Second: If you are a half black, half white girl in 1900's Florida, never wear a hairtie,
    and remember, you only find true love when you are a cougar and your third-named-after-a-pastry-husband gets rabies from trying to float down
    a river on a cow.

    If this is your high school/college reading assignment, you have my pity, may the force be with you. 

    11 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2009

    Ahead of its time, but rather boring

    While Their Eyes Were Watching God was a great accomplishment, written in a unique voice that was ahead of its time, I found it to be a disappointment. I could appreciate the dialect in which it was written, but the plot did not engage me and I never felt as though I cared for the characters. This is a "classic" that I could have done without.

    9 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2009

    THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD

    "Their Eyes Were Watching God" tells the story of a young black womans life. Throughout the book, she encounters many new and unpredictable obstacles that, in the end, she learns made her into a better person and more appreciative of her own life. Through three marriages, Janie learns how beautiful, though sometimes brutal, the world can be. She travels from place to place, seemingly always looking for something better, she wasn't going to settle for just anything. Janie wins the heart of any reader because of her determinaton and strong will.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2009

    "Their Eyes Were Watching God" is a fabulous book.

    I first read "Their Eyes Were Watching God" more than 45 years ago and thought it was a magnificent piece of writing. In August of 2008 I bought the book on CD, read by Ruby Dee, and I must tell you, I was overwhelmed. Ruby makes the characters in this book live. If there was such a thing as Oscars for individuals reading books on tape/CD etc., Ruby would win it, hands down. Her presentation breathes life into each and every character; their voices, male and female, through her interpretation, is absolutely outstanding. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to go on an adventure, because Zora Neale Hurston's main characters were living a life of adventure, of being nomads in America, of taking a chance on life, of walking out on faith. Amd Ruby Dee, through her vocalization, includes you in that adventure. Absolutely wonderful book and Rudy Dee's reading is like icing on the cake. Just amazing.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2008

    Their Eyes Were Watching God, a powerful and spectacular novel.

    Zora Neale Hurston¿s amazing novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is a spectacular story of Janie, a young biracial girl living in West Florida, trying to find her place in the world. Throughout the novel the reader is taken on a knowledgeable journey with Janie as she conquers multiple obstacles, while learning to find her voice within herself. Janie experiences numerous obstacles, being lost and then found, waiting for love, wanting love, and finally finding it. The main theme of the novel is Janie¿s quest to find herself amongst the natural hardships and obstacles of life, with others gossiping about her, to finding love, while wasting years of her life, and eventually learning how to be alone. Janie is raised in West Florida and throughout the novel she travels through many cities within Florida. Janie is forced to listen to what others tell her about love, and for many years she lives her life based on what others claim is the right way. Janie gets married twice before finally finding her soul mate, Tea Cake. Tea Cake helped Janie to break out of her sheltered lifestyle and become the intelligent, beautiful, independent woman that was always hiding away deep down. Along her journey to self-enlightenment, Janie gathers significant knowledge of life, of herself, and of love. Language and dialect are two key factors in this novel. As the story progresses, Janie becomes more outspoken and is able to express herself with assurance. The major turning point and the connection of the book¿s title comes from when Janie, Tea Cake, and others are faced with a horrible hurricane. This part of the novel shows a significant theme of humans against God. During the hurricane, there is a point where they are all helpless and no longer know what it is they should do, ¿They sat with others¿They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God¿(160 Hurston). The whole concept of the book is God¿s almighty power over all living things. Both good and bad. God helps guide the people in the novel, especially Janie, on a path to self-betterment, knowledge, self-worth, and where their place is in the world. God must also assert hardships and allows Janie to fight against others perceptions, battle within herself and her thoughts, and eventually learn from all her experiences in order to become strong and independent. In the end, Janie has grown and overcome an amazing amount of barriers. To many the ending of the novel may seem quite sad and melancholy, but it is actually the best part of the novel. Janie loses Tea Cake to a horrible disease, but in that we have seen that she is capable of being on her own and has finally found her place in the world. She learned of her strengths and is self-assured with her life. Janie has sacrificed all she needed to finally be able to understand the true meaning of life, God, and herself.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Simply Enjoyable Piece of Art

    The book was very good the broken country english was a bit rough at first but it gave the book its character. I like that Janie realized she had to live for herself and not others. It was an unique vision into what life is really like.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2010

    Eh, Okay.

    I had to read this for school. It's not something I would pick to read on my own. It was very slow in some parts, but there were a few stories that I liked and made me laugh. It's an okay book, the main character (Janie) made me soooo mad at times, and there where times where I wanted to punch Janie in the face.

    5 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Do not buy. Very boring.

    Rent it from the library. It is about Janie and her search of love. The plot is very boring and dry. Janie ends up where she started but with a different viewpoint on life. Nothing special. The colloqiual speech makes it very annoying to read. The whole story is a flashback and a boring one at that. This story is about love but has no hint of romance. If you are really intrested, just watch the movie. I repeat do NOT buy.

    4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2007

    Great book!

    I had to choose a novel for my sophmore summer reading along with 'A Raisin In the Sun'. I choose this one thinking it would be horrible but I was very wrong! This is an AMAZING book. Some say it's hard to understand because of the language but it isn't that hard really. After the first chapter you get used to the lingo. I would recommed this book for anyone that wants a good story about love.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2007

    Now I see...

    Now I see why early writers hated this book and it needed to be 'rediscovered' by Alice Walker. The writing is painfully done (I needed to look up what a 'jook' was 'jukebox,' and you couldn't figure it out by context clues either.) and some of the scenes are absolutely cringe worthy. for example a 'romantic' scene where the main character's boyfriend, Tea Cake, scratches the dandruff out of her hair. Not recommended.

    4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2007

    absolutly horrible

    this book was terrible. it was all about gossip and a girl who couldnt make up her mind. i was unfortunatly required to read it for english and hated every bit of it.

    4 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2012

    Yuck

    Thanks to all the plot spoilers i know this is a terrible book and wont waste my time or money on such an obvious racist book.

    3 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2009

    Can't understand the language!

    I had to read this book for summer reading for my English class. It was a horrible book. The language is not understandable at all. I really do not recommed it at all. It's a horrible book, and the audio did not help at all. It's extremely-slow moving. Barnes&Noble is great, but this audio was horrible. NOT RECOMMENDED

    3 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2008

    A book of good intelectual use

    This book to me was one of the most difficult books to read. I had to re-read every chapter at least 3 times to understand what was being said. The dialect is almost impossible to understand because it's life in the South in past times. The whole story is touching, even though it took a long time to read. Life was different back then, and it makes you appreciate what you have as a person. If I were to reccommend this book to someone, I would recommend it to college-level readers, or readers who know how to read other dialect. High schoolers wouldn't read it because it's impossible. But you'll get through it after a few chapters, and it's worth the read.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    my parents made me read this. I contemplated suicide.... tried i

    my parents made me read this. I contemplated suicide.... tried it, but im still here because this took all the necessary brain cells out of my head required to kill one's self.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Boring

    This book is very boring and the title does not go with the story . You learn a little history but not much

    2 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2011

    Interesting Book With an Interesting Storyline

    In the book Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston begins with the childhood of the main character Janie Crawford.Janie liked with her grandma on a white folks' land that her grandma worked for,Janie's mother had been raped and then ran off after she was born.As Janie grew up she started to realize that she was a colored person and not like the kids she lived with and played with and started to get teased,so her grandma bought her own piece of land to live on with Janie.She grew up and had her first kiss with a kid named Johnny Taylor,her grandma,seeing this kiss and being paranoid about Janie's future lifestyle,decided to marry her off to Logan Killicks who was a farmer.But that didn't go too well,Janie did not love him and he treated her well for the first year until he made her do work on the farm,ending in Janie running off to marry Jody Starks,who was a very successful and wealthy man however their marriage wasn't. Jody tried so hard to change who Janie was and her appearance,but Janie didn't like it, he made her feel old and ugly and worthless.At first she tolerated it but eventually she stood up for herself but soon after he died.Her last husband was Tea Cake whom she loved dearly and actually connected with him.He only betrayed her one time early in their marriage by taking her money and leaving for the night,but he came back and apologized.Unfortunately that marriage ended too,but not because Janie did not love Tea Cake or he didn't love her,they loved each other very much,but Tea Cake had got bitten by a dog that had rabies while trying to save Janie while they were escaping a big hurricane.Tea Cake went on a fit of madness and shot a pistol at Janie,thinking she had cheated on him with Mrs. Turner's brother whom Mrs. Turner had been trying to set Janie up with since she didn't approve of Tea Cake as Janie's husband,so the only choice Janie had was to shoot Tea Cake.She was put on trial but was found not guilty under the circumstances.After that Janie gave Tea Cake a great burial and went back to her home the local women gossiped about her saying that Tea Cake ran off with some younger woman and took all her money which was far from what happened,luckily she had Pheoby Watson,her best friend to stand up for her.Although the gossip continues,Janie doesn't care,saying that they do not know what true love is and she has fulfilled her dream and is content.I liked how the author showed specific differences in each marriage and they change in view that Janie had toward the end of her marriage to Jody.I also liked how she stayed true to the time period in the voice of the book and wrote in the way that the people in that time period would speak,however I found at times I would get a little bit lost and didn't understand.Another thing I found interesting were the different views of the people in the novel.There were great visuals in the way she wrote and was an overall great book to read,with many themes and topics.The main themes in the book were the way people viewed things,how they judged people,and jumped to conclusions.Janie's grandma was set on having Janie marry a wealthy man no matter how she felt about them because she was afraid that Janie would end up like her,poor and having to work all the time.Another example of this theme is when Janie came back to Eatonville and the women started gossiping and jumping to conclusions about why she was back and didn't bother to ask her about it.The second major theme was foll

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2008

    book better than the movie

    I really liked the book, but the movie fell flat. It wasn't a bad movie, but it was not as strong as the book. Therefore, I would recommend reading the book over watching the movie.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2007

    A reviewer

    The book was horrible because you couldn't understand it, and like someone said who wrote a review it was all about gossip. I'd bet that a person who spoke like how the dialogue is written wouldn't understand it ! Try reading this book for a school grade ! This was the most horrible book I've ever read !!

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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