Their Eyes Were Watching God: Book Review Essay, Research Paper
Book Review Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was set in Florida in the late 1930 s. The main character, Janie, is a black woman in a time when racism was prominent, though this isnot the focus of the story. It was more about her personal triumphs as a woman who was born ofa white father and a black mother. Her mother was raped and left soon after she was born,putting her in the care of her grandmother. Her first husband, Logan Killicks shows her noattention or love from the beginning of their marriage. Janie is married to him at a very youngage, and does it because it is what her grandmother has told her to do, and not because it is whatshe wants to do. She soon leaves Logan for Joe Starks. The two move to a small town whereJoe, whom she calls Jody, is the mayor. They open up a small general store and are able to enjoythe finer things, such as fancy spitting pots, because they are so prominent in their town. After awhile though, things change between the two. Joe becomes possessive, forcing Janie to whereher hair up, and eventually he tells her she is old and no one will want her due to his insecuritieswith growing older. Even when Joe is on his death bed the two are unable to reconcile theirdifferences, so when Joe dies, Janie s grieving period is not long, though she pretends it is to keepthe people of the town happy. Her next and final husband, Vergible Woods, whom she lovinglyrefers to as Tea Cake is the husband she ultimately finds love with. Through their struggles, TeaCake loves Janie, as she does him, and he is the only of the three husbands that she uses the termlove in reference to. One of the themes of this story is love. Janie goes through three different relationships and isfinally able to find happiness with the last one. Also, strength is another theme of this book. Shehas the strength to walk away from one marriage and take part in another even though the peopleof her town have a watchful eye on her because they do not believe she has mourned long enough.
Several times in the story she stands up to her husbands. For example, after enduring endlessridicule from Joe, she finally has the encourage to tell him that he needs to look at himself becausehe is far from perfect. This is a sign if strength for a woman of this time period. Another theme,although not a main one, was the issue of racism. Several times the word nigger is used, and onewoman particularly, Mrs. Turner, thinks that she is better than everyone because although she isblack, she has white features. The characters in this book are what made it so great. They spoke in a certain dialect whichmade the book more believable. Also, the author used a lot of symbols. In the beginning, shecompares Janie with a blossom because she is becoming a woman just as the blossom is becominga flower. Also, she compares a rabid dog with death because, although it did not kill her, it waswhat ultimately killed Tea Cake. The plot of the story was also wonderful because instead of aJanie being a character who the reader pities because she is a black oppressed woman, she is onethe reader can look up to and respect for her strengths and triumphs. There was not anything about this book I would change. The ending was sad, but that madethe story seem more believable. The reader was able to accompany Janie through the hardships ofher life, but also enjoy the good times with her. This is why anyone who enjoys learning a littlehistory while at the same time sharing in the heartbreak and happiness of an interesting charactershould read this book. Historically, it painted a vivid, accurate picture of what life was like duringthis time. It also provided an outlook into the social aspects of this time by explaining howwomen and blacks were treated. This is defiantly a four star book. It was historically accurate, interesting and it had many greatquotes and phrases that added to the depth of the book. It gives the reader a different perspectiveon many things because I will never know what it is like to live as a black woman. This bookallowed me to see how it could have been, had I lived back then, and been in Janie s situation. This book should be read and enjoyed by all.