I'm participating in a Read-Along of this 20th century classic at Erin Blakemore's blog--Erin is author of The Heroine's Bookshelf, which features a chapter entitled "Faith" on Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Erin came up with a slew of excellent discussion prompts and here's the link to her discussion. Here are my thoughts on Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, so far.
This book is unlike anything I can remember reading before--the closest is maybe Huck Finn, because of the dialect, but the narrative voice makes them very different types of stories. In reading the first 6 chapters, it didn't occur to me that this was in any way autobiographical. I couldn't imagine Janie as writing her story, though she is adept at telling it--perhaps that's my own prejudices intruding.
Despite the otherness of the world of Their Eyes Were Watching God, I was blown away by the richness of the language and the imagery and poetry of expression. I wasn’t sure that I would like the book, but the storytelling and language really pulled me in.
I marked this passage at the end of chapter 3 as particularly wonderful in words, rhythm, and insight:
So Janie waited a bloom time, and a green time and an orange time. But when the pollen again gilded the sun and sifted down on the world she began to stand around the gate and expect things…She knew that God tore down the old world every morning and built a new one by sun-up. It was wonderful to see it take form with the sun and emerge from the gray dust of its making. The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and looked up the road towards way off. She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.
I loved the front-porch talk and the mule stories and thought the scene where they give up the mule to the buzzards was so cinematic—loved how the preacher buzzard mirrored the Mayor.
Men and women? Except for Nanny, Daisy is practically the only woman given much air time in Janie’s story, and they didn’t really interact at all. It’s interesting how Janie’s independence shows itself as sullenness or petulance—a very passive/aggressive approach, which reflects just how powerless she feels.
Looking forward to the next section and discussion next Monday.