Tag Archives: Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston and “Their Eyes Were Watching God”

25 Aug

It is fair to say I began a love affair with Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God long ago.  A wise teacher included this book in my Syracuse University Women’s Studies Reading and Writing Course. Like Janie, I stared up into the magnolia tree, intoxicated with their scent and full of dreams.

Published in 1937, long after Ms. Hurston had written her novel seen through the eyes of Janie, a young black woman in the southern United States. At first, the conversational dialect was impenetrable. As a class, we studied the book carefully.

Many readings later, Janie feels like a friend-or myself.

Ms. Hurston crafts a story with the focus upon the protagonist’s feelings. As life events affect her perspective, she learns to adapt and develop. She yearns for life and she lives it!

Ms. Hurston was also an anthropologist, collecting folklore around the South that may otherwise have vanished; authoring “Mules and Men” published in 1935.

Recently, I read how educators pursued publication of her works in the 60s as they were largely out of print. (Random House)

I’ve had conversations with others in the language of events from “Their Eyes.”  Janie’s specific feelings are intimately real.

One summer’s eve as I looked over a full bookcase, I noticed two copies of “Their Eyes.” I decided I should share and send a copy to my niece, Reagan. She was assigned it in school the next week!

The USPS honored Ms. Hurston with a beautiful stamp. I’m happy to have a sheet of these stamps tucked away. A postcard of Zora Neale Hurston beams from a frame in my living room.

Gathering my thoughts about “Their Eyes” and my evolving relationship with the work, as well as researching Ms. Hurston more, led me to her official website! Find it here to discover resources for teachers working with this book and others of this legend.

Read more about Ms. Hurston on her official site.  The more I learn about her, the more fascinated I become!