Their Eyes Were Watching God
Their Eyes Were Watching GodBy Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale HurstonGrew up in Eatonville, Florida
Travelled broadly/ Other novels record her experiences in Haiti
Part of the Harlem Renaissance and Great Migration to Harlem
Originally criticized for stereotyping the folk-stylebook out of print for a while
Alice Walker reclaimed the novel in the 80s
BibliographyColor Struck (1925) in Opportunity Magazine, play"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 storyJonah's Gourd Vine (1934), novelMules and Men (1935), non-fictionTheir Eyes Were Watching God (1937), novelTell My Horse (1938), non-fictionMoses, Man of the Mountain (1939), novelDust Tracks on a Road (1942), autobiographySeraph on the Suwanee (1948), novel"What White Publishers Won't Print" (1950) in Negro DigestThe Sanctified Church (1981)Spunk: Selected Stories (1985)Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life (play, with Langston Hughes; edited with introductions by George Houston Bass and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.) (1991)What is the significance of the pear tree? Why would Janie begin the story with this image?
How does Janie discover her sexuality?
How do other women view sexuality in the novel? Think about Janies grandmother.
What is considered sexy in this novel? How do you come to this conclusion?SexualityJanie is married to three different men throughout the novel. Describe her relationship to each man. With your group discuss the positives and negatives of each relationship. Is it a healthy relationship? Why or why not?:
Tea-CakeJoeLoganMarriageMany critics feel that the most important part of the novel is Janies ability to voice her feelings to Pheoby. Do you agree? Why or why not?
In what ways has Janies voice been stifled by others throughout the book? Who tries to silence Janie and why?
What is the significance of choosing to divulge her story to Pheoby? What motivates Janie to tell her friend about her life? How does audience change what we are willing to reveal?
Finding Her VoiceWhy is Eatonville so important to Joe? What does he want to do there?
In what ways does it seem to be perpetuating the old social order?
How does Joe transform both in social standing and in behavior while in Eatonville.CommunityWhat does this look like?
For a majority of the novel, Janie lives in Eatonville. How does the community impact Janie?
How does the community view Janie? Does their opinion change overtime?
Describe Janies interactions with the community. Where is her place? Community cont.Janie is often admired for her light skin and hair, suggesting her mixed race. How does she react to others opinions on her appearance? Think about her life on the muck.
Why would these traits be desirable? Why or how is this problematic?
Is this still a problem today? Why or why not?A Girl Like Me
Racial TensionYou read about Hurstons experiences with Jim Crowe. How does Jim Crowe affect Teacake and Janie in the novel?
How does your knowledge of Jim Crowe impact your reading of other parts of the novel? Jim Crowe and its implicationsThe Movie Version