Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - Florida Author and Poet


Zora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God

Florida Book Feature

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

First published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God was an underappreciated book at the time of publication, and it was met with some resistance from other black authors, mainly men, at the time. It was out of print for 30 years, before author Alice Walker began bringing attention to the story and to Zora Neale Hurston, and it was reissued in 1978. You can see an original copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

Genre: Coming-of-age

Subgenres: Buildingsroman

Special category: BIPOC characters

Author name: Zora Neale Hurston 

Author's life: (Born January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, U.S.—died January 28, 1960, in Fort Pierce, Florida)

Publication Date: 1937

Publishing company: J. B. Lippincott & Co.

About the book: Janie, a young black girl, is raised by her grandmother, and she lives a sheltered life until the day her grandmother decides it is time for her to get married. Her first marriage is not what Janie ever imagined for herself, and so she runs off with another man to find her own place in the world. This marriage is not ideal, but she soon finds herself as the wife of Eatonville's mayor, something that comes with enormous sacrifices for a young woman.

Zora Neale Hurston Quote: “Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the same horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. 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.” ― Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Inspiration for this book: Zora Neale Hurston's life in Eatonville, Florida, her studies of African American folklore, and her anthropological research influenced her writing, including that of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Florida locations in this book: Their Eyes Were Watching God mainly takes place in Eatonville, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, Belle Glades, Florida, and Palm Beach, Florida.

About Zora Neale Houston: Read the Zora Neale Hurston Florida author feature here. 

Published works by Zora Neale Hurston prior to her death: 

"Journey's End" (Negro World, 1922), poetry 

"Night" (Negro World, 1922), poetry 

"Passion" (Negro World, 1922), poetry 

Color Struck (Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life, 1925), play 

Muttsy (Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life) 1926, short story. 

"Sweat" (1926), short story 

"How It Feels to Be Colored Me" (1928), essay 

"Hoodoo in America" (1931) in The Journal of American Folklore 

"The Gilded Six-Bits" (1933), short story 

Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934), novel 

Mules and Men (1935), non-fiction 

Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), novel 

Tell My Horse (1938), non-fiction 

Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939), novel 

Dust Tracks on a Road (1942), autobiography 

Seraph on the Suwanee (1948), novel 

"What White Publishers Won't Print" (Negro Digest, 1950)

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is a poignant coming-of-age story about Janie, a young black woman in a world where women were dependent on men. 

The evolution of Janie is the center of the story, and as she searches for her own happiness, despite her place in life, the tribulations she encounters are raw and honest, and so are her thoughts about life and men. 

To truly feel the power of Hurston's gift for dialogue and her use of the African American dialect, this book is one that begs to be read out loud. Once you do, the words come alive, and this is one book that makes a long-lasting impression. 

Review by Florida author Sine Boe