Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is a story of a middle-aged African American woman named Janie Crawford. The idea of this book is h...moreTheir Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is a story of a middle-aged African American woman named Janie Crawford. The idea of this book is humanity in almost every one of its forms and it deals with many topics throughout the storyline but two of the most important is love and doing what is right for you. The novel begins with Janie Crawford returning to the town of Eatonville in no more than overalls. As she walks through the town, she is criticized by those who were once her friends and neighbors. The only one who attempts to defend her is her friend Phoebe to whom Janie takes the moment to tell her story to. She begins with her childhood, raised by her grandmother who decided to marry her to a man named Logan Killicks – a man that Janie did not love. Janie’s grandmother did this out of Janie’s best interest, realizing this Janie agreed to marry Logan in hopes that she would come to love him. Soon the marriage came to lack no only love, but respect and Janie found herself caught by a man she met when he walked through town. His name was Joe Starks. She left Logan and ran off with Joe because she had fallen in love with him and his smooth words. She was hesitant to run away with him at first, because of the memory of her grandmother’s wishes. Yet Joe Starks represented the change and chance of the horizon to her. She gave Logan one more chance to voice his love before she finally decided to leave to an all-black town called Eatonville with Joe Starks. In Eatonville, Joe Starks quickly became the mayor of the town and Janie became nothing more than a figurehead wife. Joe isolates her from everyone and her “horizon” quickly became miserable. Their marriage takes a downward turn when Janie disrespects Joe in public by condescending his looks. Shortly afterward, Joe becomes bedridden and forbid Janie from seeing him. Yet one day, Janie gets sick of it and storms into the room to talk with him. She chastises him for isolating her and they get into the argument. During the argument, the stress proves too much and Joe dies during it. Janie mourns afterward – knowing it was expected by her neighbors. It was during this time she began to realize that she had believed the misconceptions of others when it came to love. She found that she hated people like her grandmother who had twisted Janie into her own vision of the feeling. She learned she had to begin taking care of things herself. Soon, however, men began coming to her to woo her for nothing more than her money. Janie managed to laugh and shoo them away until the day Vergible Woods – also known as Tea Cake – walked into her store. Janie found that she was quickly falling for Tea Cake, against the advice and acceptance of others. She was criticized for it, and her neighbors recommended she stay away from the young Mr. Woods. Ignoring their advice, Janie left Eatonville with Tea Cake and headed toward Jacksonville to be married. This marked the first time she truly did something for the happiness of herself. While they were in Jacksonville, one day Tea Cake left without a word to Janie with her two-hundred dollars. This put Janie in a panic that Tea Cake had only wanted her for her money. Later than night, however, he returned to reassure his love for her. Soon after they left for the Glades where Tea Cake was sure they would find him a job and them a life. Their marriage was a happy one, and Janie found herself with no regrets to being with Tea Cake. One day, there was a hurricane and during it Tea Cake was bitten by a rabid dog. As he develops rabies, he becomes paranoid that Janie is trying to leave him and raises a gun at her. Scared she tries to talk him out of it, holding up a gun to defend herself from him. Unable to talk him out of it, she shoots him after he bites her. She’s put on trial where she explains to everyone that she didn’t want to kill him, but it was the only way to get rid of the sickness inside of him. She was freed and returned to the town of Eatonville where the story begins. She explains to Phoebe that people don’t understand that no love is the same. That “love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de short it meets, and it’s different with every shore. Through this book Janie develops her own understanding of love, different from her grandmothers, different from Logan and Joe’s, different from everyone else. She also comes to understand what it’s like to not do anything for yourself and she learns that it is not how to live life, so she begins to do what is best for her regardless of the advice given to her by others. As the reader, you learn these things with Janie and get your own understanding for humanity based off of Janie Crawford. (less)
**spoiler alert** In the book Manhunt , the author, James Swanson, attempts to steer you away from the popular opinion on John Wilkes Booth – the famo...more**spoiler alert** In the book Manhunt , the author, James Swanson, attempts to steer you away from the popular opinion on John Wilkes Booth – the famous assassin of Abraham Lincoln. Most people believe Booth to be a terrible cold-blooded man for the crime that he committed. To kill the president of the United States is a horrendous act that could only be carried out by horrendous people – that’s the public opinion. Swanson uses this book to lead the reader’s thoughts away from popular opinion. Writing in a format of a common mystery book in which the author uses their skill to make the reader sympathize for the antagonist of the story. At one point he made note that Booth himself, when talking to a Confederate soldier, “confided to William Jett that he thought the murder ‘was nothing to brag about’.” Swanson takes every turn to humanize this man who has been continuously dehumanized by generation after generation. There is one quote during the beginning of this book that summed up the basics of John Wilkes Booth easily, "Twenty-six years old, impossibly vain, preening, emotionally flamboyant, possessed of raw talent and splendid élan, and a star member of this celebrated theatrical family — the Barrymores of their day — John Wilkes Booth was willing to throw away fame, wealth and promise for his cause.” While this quote does mention a few of Booth’s faults, it also mentions his most important aspect – the willingness to throw the life he knew away for the sake of what he believed. This is something that greatly aided the view of Booth – in my opinion – as most people seeming take to admiring those that have such determined personalities. Another part of this book that I believe greatly redeemed the character of Lincoln’s famous murderer was how many people came to his aid. This was not a lone killer acting out of nothing more than his own gain – it was a man acting for a larger group of people. John Wilkes Booth was nothing more than the “trigger” of the Confederate gun. Numerous people helped shelter him from manhunters, a few – such as Dr. Samuel Mudd and Thomas Jones, were put into situations in which they had great opportunities to sell the criminal out, yet they did not. They stay loyal to the man that – if found sheltered by them – could have had them hanged. Thomas Jones, a man who had lost almost everything – had the chance for $100,000 but refused to “betray the man whose hand I had taken, whose confidence I had won, and to whom I promised succor” believe that he would have been “of all traitors, the most abject and despicable”. Although, when I finished this book, I still believe Booth to be one of American history’s greatest antagonists – I couldn’t find myself to condemn him as I once did. When I first picked up this book, my only thoughts were that I wanted to get it done and over with as soon as possible. Yet as I read it, every page seemed to interest me. It is not a simple book on history – it is a story, one that was created to change the thoughts of the public and succeeded. (less)
The book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque is "neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death i...moreThe book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque is "neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war." It is not meant to be another war book for the sake of an action adventure. If it is any form of adventure, it would have to be a psychological one.
The author fit many points into this book that challenge preconceived ideas of war. It highlights the brutality of war and the effect on the mind of a soldier rather than romanticize war like many novels do. The author does not glorify the truth; he gives it to you head on. It is described as it is experienced by a soldier; terrifying and real. It centers around young soldiers who are thrust into maturity forcefully in order to survive, who much throw away any human instincts when they "reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals."
By the end of the book, most of the characters are dead – another way of showing that this is not a book meant to be a great war story adventure with a happy ending. The characters have to endure the reality of what they are doing, killing people. The main character, Paul, at one point has a realization that “you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony--Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?” The characters go through a realization that they are killing people who have done no wrong. Who were forced into the same situation they were and going through the same thing they were. They were forced with the reality that they were fighting for those who “ought to have been mediators and guides to the world of maturity . . . to the future . . . in our hearts we trusted them. The idea of authority, which they represented, was associated in our minds with a greater insight and a more humane wisdom.” The characters go through numerous moments of mental and physical trauma to the point where there's no question to the cruelty they are forced to face.
This is a book I really enjoyed, I've read it twice and will probably read it again. The point is a bit obvious, but not in a bad way. It goes in depth with issues that normal books would not and I'm definitely glad I read it.(less)