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Their Eyes Were Watching God
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PAST Group Reads 2018 > Their Eyes Were Watching God- Aug 15-Sept 30- NO Spoilers

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message 1: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jul 28, 2018 11:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
We will read this book as a group from August 15-Sept 30. We'll open up a spoiler thread if needed after August 1. In the meantime, please use spoiler warnings if you'd like to discuss the ending.

If you're already read this (short) book, please let me know if you think we'll need a spoiler thread.

Note - as discussed on the audio thread, some may prefer an audiobook rather than a print book for this novel.


message 2: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 68 comments I hope you all love this as much as I did! I just read it in June so I won't be reading it again, but it's definitely a book I'd love to re-read.


message 3: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
I enjoyed this book! I like the kind of flashback style she uses. You start out knowing that something happened, but you don't know exactly what and that keeps you reading.


Paula Exquisite narration, even though in parts, you have to re-read to understand the dialect. The characters will help you form an opinion of what was happening during the period. I like this story a lot. Would like to re-read it.


message 5: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Yes, Paula, the dialect took some getting used to!

Once I figured out what the sound was supposed to be I was able to read through it faster.


Blueberry (blueberry1) Sometimes it helps me with dialect to read it
outloud.


Diane I'm about half way thorough the book. I thought it would be a quick read but I need to slow down to understand the dialog. I go back and forth on whether I am enjoying the story. Anyone else feeling that way?


message 8: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "I'm about half way thorough the book. I thought it would be a quick read but I need to slow down to understand the dialog. I go back and forth on whether I am enjoying the story. Anyone else feelin..."

It took me awhile to really feel out the dialog.

The middle was the slowest part for me with all the talk of sitting in front of the store, but I enjoyed the end.


message 9: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
SPOILER THREAD is open.

Use this to discuss the ending or any significant plot points.
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 10: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Thanks J.! I started listening to this in the car, and I just love Ruby Dee's voice. So far I just know a little about two characters, and the gossipy neighbors. I guess they're everywhere! I can't wait to learn more.


message 11: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Aug 20, 2018 11:02PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I really like the writing in this book. I might have to get the kindle just so I can highlight some of the beautiful sentences (I'm listening in the car). There was a lushly written section about flowers (or trees and spring) that alluded to puberty, and involved a kiss with a boy over the fence. I didn't catch every word as they washed over me but it was just as good when I listened again.


message 12: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
NancyJ wrote: "I really like the writing in this book. I might have to get the kindle just so I can highlight some of the beautiful sentences (I'm listening in the car). There was a lushly written section about f..."

I bet the audiobook would make it easier to follow the dialect.


message 13: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 21 comments J. wrote: "I bet the audiobook would make it easier to follow the dialect."

I'm having no trouble understanding the audio version.


message 14: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "I'm about half way thorough the book. I thought it would be a quick read but I need to slow down to understand the dialog. I go back and forth on whether I am enjoying the story. Anyone else feelin..."

Diane, I hope you haven't given up on it. I listened to the audio for 5-6 chapters, and then turned to the book to reread the beginning. I'm really enjoying it. Ruby Dee's voice is really great, especially when she's narrating or voicing Janie. I'm enjoying this as much as A Tree Grow in Brooklyn, though there will be more grown-up drama here.


message 15: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 21 comments I just finished it and found it to be an amazing book. My impression is that it would fit very well in a women's studies class. Janie's marriages to three different men and the different ways that each treated her and how she responded offers a wealth of discussion topics.
This is widely recognized as Hurston's greatest work but it wasn't received very favorably when it was first published. During the Harlem Renaissance black authors tried hard to come across as cultured and well-educated, partially in response to racist books that portrayed blacks very negatively. Their Eyes Were Watching God was considered an embarrassment when it was first published in its portrayal of rural uneducated Negroes with their uncultured speech and behavior. It wasn't until much later that the book was accepted as the rich portrayal of rural African American life with its vibrant tradition of storytelling that it is with none of the artificial masks that others resorted to. Zora Neale Hurston is truly a national treasure.


Parker | 204 comments Tom, yes she is a national treasure! She did work for the Writer's Project Administration during the Depression, with formerly enslaved African Americans (her interviews are ones that you can definitely trust -- there's no "telling the white folks what they want to hear" going on at all). A book of hers was recently found and published --I'm looking forward to reading it.

What a lot of Whites didn't understand was that "Black English" is based on Gullah (a Creole Language still spoken in the Charleston, SC area. I happen to be pretty fluent, even though I'm a come yeah and not a bin yeah). It has African grammatical construction using English words.


message 17: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Aug 25, 2018 12:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Parker wrote: "Tom, yes she is a national treasure! She did work for the Writer's Project Administration during the Depression, with formerly enslaved African Americans (her interviews are ones that you can defin..."

Parker, that's really interesting! That explains a lot. I'm glad to know that the language is authentic. At first it almost sounded like she was making fun of people, by giving them words that sounded educated, but were incorrect. For instance, when complaining that Joe Starks acted like a section foreman, Coker commented "He's mighty compellment." I had the uncomfortable feeling that she was trying to make us laugh at them. It reminded me of the TV show Sanford and Son in a few spots. But the language seemed consistent, and I trusted that the author wasn't doing that. Or, I suppose I trusted that Alice Walker wouldn't have championed her work if it wasn't OK.

Based on what Tom said, many educated black people didn't like the book when it was first released. Perhaps they were embarrassed by the language, or they thought that this educated black woman was making fun of poor people in her race. Like Mrs Turner in the book, who hates darker skinned blacks.

Having listened to the audio, I'm reading fairly quickly now without the trouble I had initially. But I keep pausing to reread and find passages that I really liked. I have a kindle from the library so I hope if I allow them to post to goodreads, they'll remain after the book goes back to the library. This is fairly new for me. I'm usually more concerned with the story than with a pretty phrase, but I really like the symbolism and imagery in this book.


message 18: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Aug 25, 2018 12:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
i>Tom wrote: "I just finished it and found it to be an amazing book. My impression is that it would fit very well in a women's studies class. Janie's marriages to three different men and the differ

I agree Tom! Each husband had a different idea about the roles and behaviors they expected from a wife. And she made different choices as she matured.

I moved the rest of my response to the Spoiler page.


message 19: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Moving this to the past reads folder, but the thread will remain open for discussion.


message 20: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Article about Zora and Langston Hughes travelling the south together. More history than literary.

https://longreads.com/2019/04/03/when...


message 21: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
This is a great article. Thanks J! Zora really was an anthropologist.


message 22: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
NancyJ wrote: "This is a great article. Thanks J! Zora really was an anthropologist."

It came across my feed one day and I found it quite interesting!


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