Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Review

their_eyes_were_watching_god3Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was a historically significant novel and one I knew I needed to read, especially given Alice Walker’s [author of The Color Purple] recommendation!

It surrounds Janie Crawford, an African American women who has had her fair share of hardships throughout her forty-year life. The product of an inappropriate student/teacher relationship, Janie is raised by her Nanny [a former slave] when her mother Leafy runs off to live her own life of chasing jazz and liquor. Before Nanny dies, she marries Janie off to an older farmer, Logan. Logan is looking for a field hand, not a wife, and Janie finds herself terminally unhappy.

She soon falls in love with Joe Starks and runs off with the lovable scamp. Joe wants Janie to be the trophy wife and run the family store, avoiding any social interaction or event. Joe is a controlling man who finally slaps Janie and leaves her. He ends up passing away from kidney failure, but not before Janie can tell him that he never really knew her or let her be free.

With Joe’s estate left to her, Janie becomes a rich woman in her 30’s with plenty of suitors. Her favorite is romantic and endearing Tea Cake, who is much younger than her, but respectful and caring. They move to Jacksonville to start their life together and Janie is truly happy until Tea Cake is bit by a rabid dog. He contracts rabies and goes mad, trying to kill Janie. She shoots Tea Cake out of self defense and kills him. There is a trial, which Janie wins.

The ending was abrupt… I thought, at least. The story was heartbreaking and empowering. Janie wanted a marriage filled with love and happiness. One in which she could be herself. Even if her marriage to Tea Cake does not last long, it is the truest love of her life. Good novel, not a favorite, but a good read on the history of African-Americans.

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