REVIEW: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Free via Professor
Publication Date: December 1, 1998
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Point of View: 3rd Person (Various)
Genres & Themes:Classics, Cultural, African American, American, School, Marriage, Race Structures


Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate. Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person -no mean feat for a Black woman in the 30’s. Zora Neale Hurston’s classic 1937 novel follows Janie from her nanny’s plantation shack to Logan Killick’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 quest for identity takes her on a journey during which she learns what love is, experiencess life’s joys and sorrows, and comes home to herself in peace.


” 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 Eye away in Resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of man.”

Two weeks of reading this book. I don’t think you guys have any clue how rare that is for me. Not even the Soldier book, which was over 700 pages, took me as long as a week. But it felt so good, to be able to savor it, to not be rushing for that next book, to be anticipating for what happened next, to be surprised and then have to pace myself for the ‘what now?’

Seeing as how I read this novel for my college literature class, you can expect that I was analysis as I was reading it, to be picking it apart, asking questions, and though sometimes that defeats the purpose of enjoying a book and its journey it helped me understand a lot of what happened in the book.

The dialect is tricky, but once you get use to it, it’s a treat.

The story is a good one, one that address many topics of conversations, and they were done subtle and not so subtle. The main character, although not the narrator, Janie, dealt with a hard life, but not because she was poor, but because of what she had to endured for so many years.

Reading about her first husband, and what she expected out of that forced marriage, was essential. I always did wonder what his reaction to her leaving was, and mind you I laughed at the last interaction with Janie and him.

Twenty years. Doesn’t that seem like a lifetime? It is. You can learn so much during that time, do so much. Janie, however, spent it next to a man she no longer loved, maybe never did. To see Janie shoulder her dreams on to Jody’s shoulder and have it tossed aside, was a revelation in itself. She learned during that time, though.  About the town, about Jody, about how Jody reacted to aging, and she learned to love herself.

Whilst reading this, my professor told our class that Oprah had named this book as her favorite love story. I would really like to sit down and talk with her, because, although I did see the love at first, a certain scene turned me off of that.

Which leads me to this question—can you disregard one scene to look at the bigger picture? Isn’t that the point of a book, that with all it’s individual, different scenes they form the bigger picture? That the whole book in its entirety is the big picture?

To me every scene, every word, action, thought is part of the journey of the story, important. The author wrote it, isn’t it true? The author thought it, wrote it, and left it there because it’s part of the story. Hmm, food for thought.

If you read this, or have read it, then I ask you the question my professor proposed since the first page—what is eating Janie?

Does she gain it in the end?


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