Zora Neale Hurston's Biography

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Brief introduction of the book

Plot of the Novel

Publications

Websites

Brief Introduction (of the work in general)

In this work we perform an analysis of the book "Their Eyes were watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston's. Our analysis includes the bibliography of the author, a brief introduction of the book, an in-depth plot of the novel, a chapter by chapter analysis of the novel and conclusion on the significance of the novel

Zora Neale Hurston's Biography

Zora Neale Hurston was born on January 7 of 1891 in a little town of Notasulga, Alabama. She was the fifth born of a family of eight children. John, her father was a Baptist preacher, a carpenter and a sharecropper. Her mother was called Lucy and she was a retired schoolteacher. The family relocated to Eatonville, Florida within a year of her birth. It is worth noting that the very first black community that was incorporated in the United States is Eaton. When Zora was thirteen years old (in 1904), her mother passed a way, an event that devastated her. Some time in the same year, Zora's father removed her from school so that she could go and take care of the children of her brother. As a teenager, she was very eager to abandon the responsibility that was in her brother's family. Soon after, she joined a traveling theatre while aged sixteen. She then became a domestic worker in a white household. The lady who she worked for bought her very first book and then organized for her education at the Morgan Academy (presently called Morgan State University ) in the city of Baltimore. In the July of 1918, she graduated. In the proceeding summer, she worked as a manicurist and a waitress prior to gaining enrolment in Howard Prep School. Later on, she attended Howard University. Despite being in Howard for four years, she just managed to graduate with a -year Associates degree. The reason for this is that she spent most of her Howard time writing. She began with a college publication and then moves out to participating actively in writing contests in both newspapers and magazines. Her writing career began in the early 1920s. During the period that the Harlem Renaissance was gaining momentum (1925) she moved to New York City. In New York, she enrolled subsequently, in Barnard College. She studied under Franz Boas who was a very distinguished founder of the anthropology discipline. While still studying at the Barnard College, she got married to Herbert Sheen, her boyfriend from Howard. Their marriage was however short-lived. Upon graduating, she went back to Eatonville, her hometown, to search for story materials to advance her career. She published several titles in the late 1920s and these allowed her to obtain a hefty financial scholarship from her patrons in New York who were mostly wealthy citizens. The epitome of her literary career was between 1930 and 1940s. She finished her graduate education at Columbia and then subsequently managed to publish a total of four novels and a single autobiography. She then got awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. She then travelled to the Caribbean and got intrigued by the voodoo practice. This made het to start incorporating elements of supernatural powers into her writings. The white literati in New York acclaimed her work. However, the Black Arts Movement criticized her work. She coined the term "niggerati" for her detractors and claimed that their criticisms were close minded and racial. The mid 1940s saw her writing career falter. She was also arrested and subsequently charged with molestation of a ten-year-old child. She got exonerated but the dent to her public image was permanent. She went into depression as a result of the constant rejection she got from publishers. She then went to Florida in 1950s and cleaned houses there. She then had a string of career changes. She tried being a journalist, librarian as well as substitute teacher.She then became too broke and was hit by a fatal stroke sometime in 1959. She got buried at Fort Pierce, Florida in an unmarked grave.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Brief introduction of the book

Their Eyes Were Watching God, a book by Zora Neale Hurston is a novel whose primary topic is the gender difference in the roles that are played by men and women in their families. This subject is immediately introduced when the author said that; "Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly."(Hurston 1986,viii). The story contained in the book is an in-depth detail of three different marriages. It is towards the end of the story that the character, Janie becomes normal and gets a feeling of completeness.

At the time when the book was initially published, it got received acclaim as well as criticism from the Black community (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2011). The criticism was based on the fact that the Blacks felt that the book outrageously portrayed Whites at that particular time as favorable and this was a reinforcement of the various stereotypes of the Black people who were obediently obeying their White masters. Most of the book is however filled with the details of the three marriages that Janie went through with three different men. The story is therefore focused on the relationships that she shared with the three different men.

Janie's first marriage was to a man called Logan and it was not a happy one. The marriage is an arranged one and it was never a smooth sail for Janie. Logan was initially attracted to Janie's beauty but this changed when he started to treat her poorly. This is evident when the author wrote that "A world you share with Logan Killicks is evidently not the same world you will share with Vergible 'Tea Cake' Woods… In these two discreet worlds, you will not even think the same way; a mind trapped with Logan is freed with Tea Cake." (Hurston 1986,xi). The harsh treatment soon sees Janie get out of the relationship only start another one with a second husband. It is worth pointing out that several women are faced with similar situations and are forced to stay in such abusive relationships / marriages for the rest of their miserable lives.

Janie's second husband was called Jody Starks and was entirely different from Logan. He was very smart as well as cunning. Initially, he treated Janie well and she was very happy around him. Their marriage however, deteriorated when Jody acquired wealth and then became very demanding of her. Janie got nothing from her second husband Jody except material things (Hurston 1986, xix). The second marriage showcased a relationship that married couples get stuck into. This type of relationship can be extremely painful for the women. This is because women who get married to some men are usually forced to portray and behave themselves in a manner that they are not used to. Her second husband Jody died and that is when she got a chance to move on with her life. At the time of their marriage Jody made Janie his servant and she would not have been able to get free on her own.

Later on, Janie got to meet her third man, Teacake. They feel in love and then soon got married. Their marriage was a very happy one. Hurston used this third marriage to show to the world how possible it is for men and women to stay in happy marriages together. She pointed out that they key to happy marriage is to respect each other and then let each and every one in the marriage behave as they pleased. Unfortunately, Teacake was bitten by a rapid dog which made him crazy. Janie ended up killing him in self-defense. Their marriage was however a happy one. The views of Hurston on marriage were very modern. This is because, despite the fact that women had to rights. Their civil liberties were equated to those of farm animals. Janie's grandmother used to express this fact by saying that "De nigger woman is de mule uh de world." (Hurston 2007, xi). This therefore indicates that at that particular point in time, very few people thought that women had any form of rights of expressing their feelings to an extent of influencing the opinions and behaviors of their husbands. Hurston however, showed that a man and a woman are able to coexist in harmony if they have respect for each other and refrain from imposing their expectations on each other.

Plot of the Novel

The initial scenario

The novel is about Janie who is a young girl who lives with her grandmother. She is experiences a magical union that takes place between a bear blossom and a bee while in her youth and this compels her to seek true love as a great quest of…