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Their Eyes Were Watching God

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  306,949 ratings  ·  17,219 reviews
Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person -- no mean feat for a black woman in the '30s. Janie's quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots. ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Amistad (first published 1937)
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John Jones Here's where the title originates. From the book:"They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes training against crude walls and t…moreHere's where the title originates. From the book:"They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes training against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God." This narrative occurs while Janie and Tea cake are at Lake Okeechobee waiting for the water to come. The flood which results from the rising water sets up a dramatic ending to the entire story.(less)
Maureen Laney Native Son by Richard Wright might be a good option. It takes place in Chicago, not the south, but is the same general time period. And a great novel …moreNative Son by Richard Wright might be a good option. It takes place in Chicago, not the south, but is the same general time period. And a great novel regardless of how close it parallels this one!(less)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  306,949 ratings  ·  17,219 reviews

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Emily May
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, classics
Janie saw her life like a giant tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.

I've spent many years wanting to read this book, but also not wanting to read it because the title made me think it was going to be heavy on religion, which is something I generally avoid in books. It's not, though. It's a wonderful, lyrical tale of a woman's life and search for independence.

Now I'm fascinated by interpretations of the title because
Michael Finocchiaro
I read this masterpiece for the first time in high school. The love story of Janie and Tea Cake is one of stupendous beauty. Zora Neal Hurston's text is a treasure:
"So she went on thinking in soft, easy phrases while all around the house, the night time put on flesh and blackness."
Early in life, Janie is taken care of by her grandmother Nanny,
"Every tear you drop squeezes a cup uh blood outa mah heart"
As she grew, "Janie waited for a bloom time, a green time and an orange time."
She is married of
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
I have mixed feelings on this book. On one hand I loved the writing style and I loved the main character and following her journey through life's struggles. On the other hand it was slow moving, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I felt things could've been cut to keep the story moving better. I understand why this is such a well loved classic, but I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped to! :( ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern
”Dey gointuh make ‘miration ‘cause mah love didn’t work lak they love, if dey ever had any. Then you must tell ‘em dat love ain’t somethin’ lak uh grindstone dat’s de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch. Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”

Janie Crawford knows about love. She knows how life is with it and she knows how life is without it. She had three marriages
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A story as melancholic for its relationship to the writer's own life/destiny as another Southern masterpiece "Confederacy of Dunces." I cannot imagine that this isn't Toni Morrison's true foundations of prose--the beauty of which borders on the sublime. The modernism of "Their Eyes" lies in the intermixing of 1930's black vernacular with poetic lines which themselves carry astute and precise craft--this is outstanding. Lightning in a bottle--that's what this book reads like.

I love to choose side
Jan 31, 2022 rated it it was amazing
“The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky.”

A masterpiece. Zora Neale Hurston does the impossible, she perfectly combines beautiful poetic prose with the Southern black slang of the 30’. The result swept me of my feet and transported me in the middle of an all in-love story. Imperfect, passionate, sometimes violent but it was impossible to look somewhere else because of its beauty. The narrator was perfect and it made me feel the atmosphere of the place and time.

I finally read
Here is a woman who led a wretched life for years, doomed to stagnate in the drab depths of oblivion even after her death which had gone under the radar and generated no nostalgia-soaked, emotional obituaries. She lay in an unmarked grave in the Garden of Heavenly Rest, Florida, treated by her own contemporaries like an outcast because of a difference in perspectives, to be resuscitated and acknowledged as one of the foremost powerful voices that ever reverberated across the African-American lit ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was prepared, based on the many five star reviews for this novel by many of my esteemed Goodreads friends, for a worthy book. I was prepared, based on its 1937 publishing date and its setting of Eatonville, Florida and then the Everglades, that important racial themes would be present. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was to be knocked over completely by the shimmering, feathery-fine, poetic prose. I wasn't prepared to be told a courageous, all-in, love story.

Zora Neale Hurston's incredibl
Two things:
1) This is deserving of the one-of-the-great-classics-of-the-20th-century title.
2) Every book should be large print.

To elaborate on both:

This is a beautifully written, brilliantly characterized, and consuming read. I tend to hate historical fiction, but when it's done like this I love it completely.

Equally significantly, I accidentally bought the large-print version of this book, and now I want to do that forever.

Those are my two PSAs.

Bottom line: Read this book, and give large print
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recs
Written in lush prose that blossoms around lines of vernacular dialogue, Their Eyes Were Watching God follows Janie Crawford as she wades through three turbulent marriages toward a state of financial and emotional independence. The story begins at its end, with a forty-something Janie returning to her old town after years spent elsewhere; her best friend Pheoby calls upon her, and Janie begins to recount her many travels and experiences to Pheoby. But, despite the frame's promise that Janie will ...more
AJ Griffin
Jul 03, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in historical ebonics, I suppose
Another "I don't remember it very well, but I know I liked it" story. Here's what I do recall:

A) The main character was a woman, and she had something like 3 lovers throughout the book. Saucy.
B) One of these dudes was named either Teabag, Cornbread, Teabread, or Breadbag. Or something.
C) There was some issue with the weather towards the end.
D) Zora Neal Hurston got arrested for fucking a kid, or something (I guess that wasn't really in the book, but whatever).

Somehow I managed to get through th
I Mean...What Can I Say?

So sad such a talented person has to die indigent. Zora Neal Hurston, born 1891, died in abject poverty in 1960.

Although l have read this book several times, each time l read it, l see a different story that she is trying to tell.

Unfortunately, though many people don’t want to admit it, the relationship between black men and black women is still the same.

Although Janie doesn’t stand up for herself, and fight back, thankfully, black women today are fighting back.

I don’t kn
Kevin Ansbro
Zora Neale Hurston was born to write.
This 1930s deeply human story of one indefatigable black woman's life, loves and catastrophes dazzled and delighted me from start to finish.
It was apparently written in a hurry and the story does have a breakneck feel to it. Characterful expressions burst from its pages; the syncopated, lively dialogue of the black people of the day is lush and gorgeous to read.
But please don't accept my effusive review as a recommendation. This book is not a generic crowd-pl
"Love is like the sea. It's a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it's different with every shore."

In the beginning, there was Nanny. Nanny knew what it meant to be a slave to men. And Nanny had a daughter. She saw what happened to her, how she chose to escape pain in oblivion. And Nanny was scared. She was so scared that she wanted to prevent the same thing from happening to her daughter's daughter, even if it meant that she had to force her grandc
Melissa Rudder
Jan 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
When I teach Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, I tell my students the Alice Walker headstone story and teach the book as a Black Feminist novel that is far, far ahead of its time. I noticed this year that my introduction made my students expect the protagonist, Janie, to jump from the novel's pages as a woman warrior, take no shit from anyone, and--I don't know--burn her bra. But the real beauty of Hurston's novel is that her heroine is a real character living in a real world--a ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
When I was in school we were given a choice to read Soul on Ice, Johnny got his gun or this book. I choose Johnny, a book that haunts me to this day. Hurston's book always remained in the back of my mind, though I can't help but wonder if I would have appreciated it back then as much as I did now.

I did find the dialect difficult at times, but I found if I read it out loud it made more sense. Of course my husband thought I was demented, but he often does. I cannot imagine being married as young a
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Talking about what a revelation this book was to me with a girlfriend, I told her this is essentially a feminist novel that was published in 1937. Gone With the Wind was published in 1936, so this was what shook me to my core. Here is Thurston with her main character, Janie, not content with what others have decided for her; she will live her life on her own terms and decide for herself. It is truly a modern idea. Unlike Gone With the Wind (which I hated), in which all the black people are depic ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900's American South and published research on hoodoo. The most popular of her four novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a 1937 novel by American writer Zora Neale Hurston. It is considered a classic of the Harlem Renaissance, and Hurston's best known work.

The novel explores mai
There are two ways to approach this book:

1. Enjoy the writing! Take in the dialect and try to put yourself in the atmosphere that is created by Hurston’s fantastic prose and poetry. (Side note: The audio version narrated by Ruby Dee only makes this better)
2. While reading, think about this as more of a historical fiction story. Take a moment to read a bit about the South between the Civil War and World War I. How does the end of slavery and the establishment of a free black community in the Sout
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
I loved this with MY WHOLE HEART.
Jun 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blog, kick-ass
Another book that I recently re-read that stands up well to a second reading. Hurston's novel, unlike many classics, is as impressive and as relevant today as it was when written.

Hurston's story of Janie, a fair-skinned black woman caught in the time period between the end of slavery and the civil rights movement, is the first woman in her family who has the opportunity to be defined as something other than property. Despite this, Janie is unable achieve self-actualization or seek out the indepe
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently reread this book, in February 2011 and wrote a new review. It's a lengthy review, but I learned a lot on the second reading, hence the length. I posted that review on my blog, so here's the link: http://left-handedright-brained.blogs....

***I decided to remove the original review I posted for this book due to the new review I wrote in February 2011. The original review I posted for this book is no longer how I feel about the book and therefore wanted to move forward with the 2011 revi
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Unheard voices which have much to say
Recommended to Dolors by: Steve Sckenda
Shelves: dost, read-in-2014
“To meet as far this morning 

From the world as agreeing 

With it, you and I 

Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are: 

That their merely being there 

Means something; that soon 

We may touch, love, explain.”

Some Trees by John Ashberry.

Janie returns to Eatonville with the sunbeams glowing on her shoulders giving her the appearance of a luminescent and almost unearthly goddess whose bare feet voluptuously caress the dusty road. Women on porches sing a harmonious chorus of gossip a
LA Cantrell
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am not African American, and no matter what genuine empathy is in my heart, there is no way a white woman can truly understand the life experiences and the collective family experiences of my girlfriends and guy friends who are in fact black.

But reading this classic by Zora Hurston let me pretend to do so for a while.

Wow, what a book! When Ms. Hurston, born in 1891 ,wrote this, she had already attended Howard University and Barnard College studying anthropology and attended Columbia for gradu
Gretchen Rubin
A re-read. Of everything I've ever read, I may love its ending more than the ending of any other novel: “Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.” ...more
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Poets, Lovers and Screenwriters
Recommended to Chloe by: Sally
You know those books that sit on your shelf and mock you for being too hesitant to pick them up? We all have them. They sit there, perched on the edge of the shelf like hooligans on a stoop tossing out insults to passersby and just daring them to pick them up and give 'em a spin. For me, Their Eyes Were Watching God was the ringleader of my abusive books. It would yell vicious things at me as I sat near the shelf and once, in collusion with my long-time archenemy gravity, contrived to whap me up ...more
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A Classic That Hasn't Finished Saying What It Has to Say
Seeing Within You More than Before

Their Eyes Were Watching God should be more highly revered as an American classic. Italo Calvino defined a "classic" as "a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” The current racial turmoil brewing in the United States today leaves no doubt that this Zora Neale Hurston classic still hasn't finished saying what it has to say.

Ms. Hurston's decision to attain a verisimilitude by using the
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Zora Neale Hurston was a trained anthropologist, and her masterpiece "Their Eyes Were Watching God" is a study of mid twentieth century black culture. However it is also so much more than that. Hurston preserved for posterity the colloquialisms and cadences of black southern culture, one generation removed from slavery. But she does so in a universal and thought provoking novel that explores the very building blocks of the human condition: love, our personal dreams and growth, and every person's ...more
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Impressive. Moving. Lyrical.

A must read American classic!

Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: On the Southern Literary Trail
Their Eyes Were Watching God: Zora Neale Hurston's Novel of an Independent Woman

"Dat's all right, Pheoby, tell 'em. Dey gointuh make 'miration 'cause mah love didn't work lak they love, if dey ever had any. Then you must tell 'em dat love ain't somethin' lak uh grindstone dat's de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch. Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore."

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Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist and author. In 1925, shortly before entering Barnard College, Hurston became one of the leaders of the literary renaissance happening in Harlem, producing the short-lived literary magazine Fire!! along with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman. This literary movement became the center of the Harlem Renaissance.

Hurston applied her Barnard ethnographic tr

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