A harrowing tale of racism in the deep South, the story is one that focuses heavily on the importance of self-fulfillment and satisfaction in a world that is seemingly so against the main characters.
Historical context[ edit ] Racial climate in the early s[ edit ] With legislation like the Jim Crow lawsenacted from tomany African-Americans were disfranchised. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan terrorized black citizens, leading to the steady decline of African-American political representation. Tenant farming and sharecropping systems constituted the de facto re-enslavement of African Americans in the South, where Hurston's novel is based.
Baptist preacher Thomas Dixon, Jr. A Romance of the White Man's Burden inasserting white supremacy amidst supposed African-American evil and corruption. The book was so popular that Dixon wrote a trilogy. His second novel, The Clansmanwas adapted for the silent film The Birth of a Nationportraying African-American men in an unintelligent, sexually aggressive light The renaissance was meant to be a liberating response to the restrictive standards of the Racial Uplift program, encouraging writers and artists to expose racist oppression in American society.
In an essay by Nick Aaron Ford, Hurston is quoted to have to said, "Many Negroes criticise my book, because I did not make it a lecture on the race problem. I am interested in you now, not as a Negro man but as a man.
I am not interested in the race problem, but I am interested in the problems of individuals, white ones and black ones. Hurston viewed her work as distinct from the work of fellow Harlem Renaissance writers she described as the "sobbing school of Negrohood" that portrayed the lives of black people as constantly miserable, downtrodden and deprived.
In addition, Hurston refused to censor women's sexuality, writing in beautiful innuendo to embrace the physical dimension of her main character's romances.
Completely rejecting the Uplift agenda, the magazine also included homoerotic work as well as portrayals of prostitution.
Readers receive the story of her life in three major periods corresponding to her marriages to three very different men. The flashback in the book begins with Janie's sexual awakening which she compares to a pear blossom in spring. Not long after, Janie allows a local boy, Johnny Taylor, to kiss her, which Janie's grandmother, Nanny, witnesses.
Nanny is an elderly woman who, as a slave, was raped by her owner and gave birth to a mixed-race daughter Leafy. Nanny escaped from her jealous mistress and found a good home after the end of the American Civil War. Nanny tried to create a good life for her daughter, but Leafy was raped by her school teacher and became pregnant with Janie.
Shortly after Janie's birth, Leafy began to drink and stay out at night. Eventually, she ran away, leaving her daughter Janie with Nanny. Nanny, afraid Janie's life may follow Leafy's or her own, transfers all the hopes she had for Leafy to Janie and arranges for Janie to marry Logan Killicks, an older farmer looking for a wife.
Although Janie is not interested in either Logan or marriage, her grandmother wants her to have the stability she never had; legal marriage to Killicks, Nanny believes, will give Janie opportunities.
Nanny feels that Janie will be unable to take care of herself, so she must marry a man who will take care of her. Janie's image of the pear tree causes her to imagine that marriage must involve love—in Janie's pear tree scene, she sees bees pollinating a pear tree and believes that marriage is the human equivalent to this natural process.
However, Killicks wants a domestic helper rather than a lover or partner; he thinks Janie does not do enough around the farm and that she is ungrateful. Janie speaks to Nanny about how she feels, but Nanny, too, accuses her of being spoiled.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 /5. Nov 24, · We all know and love Zora Neale Hurston as one of the great 20th-century writers.
But she was not just a literary star. Trained as an anthropologist, she did pioneering fieldwork in the American. Their Eyes Were Watching God is, at its most elemental, a sweeping love story and, at its most complex, a progressive feminist parable and cultural study.
Impetuous Janie Crawford is torn between. Buy Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston from Amazon's Fiction Books Store. Everyday low prices on a huge range of new releases and classic fiction/5.
Their Eyes Were Watching God is the story of Zora Neale Hurston's Janie who, at sixteen, married a grubbing farmer at the anxious instigation of her slave-born grandmother.
The romantic Janie, in the highly-charged language of Miss Hurston, longed to be a pear tree in blossom and have a "dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the. First published in , Their Eyes Were Watching God is Zora Neale Hurston's most highly acclaimed novel.
A classic of black literature, Their Eyes Were Watching God belongs in the same category--with that of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway--of enduring American literatureSaturday Review.