Friday, February 20, 2009

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston

How did I live to be thirty and not have ever heard of Zora Neale Hurston? She should have been in my college course about women in literature when I was in college. She should have been in my history books when I was studying American History in high school. However, even before she died in 1960, Ms Hurston had been all but forgotten. Thank goodness for Alice Walker and others who have rediscovered Hurston for the benefit of us all.

When I moved to Virginia about twenty-five years ago, my book group decided to read Their Eyes Were Watching God. So finally I encountered Janie Crawford and her story. Hurston tells the tale of a woman who learns her own mind and her own dreams. After learning what she wants, Janie lives her dream.

This does not mean that all works out in the end. One of the strengths of this book is that Hurston knows that life is no fairy tale. She makes Janie real and while I was reading this book, I kept thinking about her as a real person. Even though her life is not ideal in Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie is a good role model. The development of her character can help the reader think about her dreams.

I had the opportunity to re-read this book now that I am in my fifties. I am a different person, but Janie is still a significant voice for me. As an older woman, I saw a different side of Janie’s life. Her struggle and success is even more important to me. I would like to meet Janie now and see where her life went as she got older.

This time round, I listened to Janie’s story. Hurston’s words are good on paper, but getting to hear Ruby Dee read them to me – well, the words are great. This was so much better for me as an audio book. The book is written in dialect which I can read, but I really did not hear until it was read to me. I was blown away. Janie's story is the story of one of the most wonderful women I have ever read about.

Everyone should read this book. Thanks for the opportunity to think and write about this book. I am amazed at what Zora Neale Hurston accomplished in her life.

submitted by Patty Franz

1 comment:

Claudia said...

I enjoyed reading your review, Patty. I remember discovering Their Eyes as a senior in college and feeling the same way! And I agree that hearing her words out loud is one of the best ways to experience this book. Hurston is a master storyteller.