Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Thoughts: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
When I first picked up Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, I thought the book would be ridiculously boring. The cause? My copy’s tedious Foreword. I’m really glad I persevered—i.e. skipped the Foreword and started reading the first chapter—because the book is now one of my all-time favorites.
At the age of seventeen, Janie's grandmother urges her to marry an older man for his huge property. Thinking that love automatically comes with marriage, Janie agrees, and is disappointed when she learns that he wants a farm hand, not a wife. She runs away with the smooth-talking Joe, who, once again, doesn’t want a wife, just a beautiful trophy. When Joe dies, Janie becomes a well-off widow, and meets the younger Tea Cake. Despite the age difference, they fall in love, and Janie finally begins to discover who she really is.
I can’t rave enough about this book. Hurston’s writing is so beautiful, and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The whole time I was reading, I felt like I had a piece of pink cotton candy in my mouth—for some reason, Hurston’s prose just tastes sweet. She puts the most unexpected words together, and infuses them with profound meaning that made me stop to think A LOT. At first, I was intimidated by the use of Ebonics in the novel, but it was actually pretty easy to read after the first couple of pages.
Janie is a wonderful female character. As a young girl, she allows other people to make crucial decisions for her. Joe, for example, wouldn’t let her laugh and talk to the other men in town. He wanted her to stay in their store, and to keep quiet. Slowly, she learned to stand up for herself, and discovered who she really was. That’s saying a lot about a novel first published in 1937. Next to Janie, Tea Cake, her third husband, is also a great character. Except for one incident in the novel, they treated each other like equals, and he was the first person who let her come out of her shell.
The edition I own has an Afterword, and I skipped that one, too. After reading the last page, I simply put the book down, and thought about people whose eyes are still watching God. Personally, I think we all wonder why certain bad things happens to us, and we all have a lot of questions that God will probably never answer. But that’s life, though, and Their Eyes Were Watching God is still making me think long and hard about it.
Rating: 5/5 I will definitely reread this book.
P.S: If you’ve read this book, what did you think of the ending? I really need to talk about it. *Starts jumping up and down.*