Monday, June 20, 2011

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching GodTheir Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second (or third...)-hand copy of the book I bought was published in 1990. It has a foreword and afterword reminding me all about how important this book was as a political marker for the feminist black writer in the 20th century. I read all about how revolutionary it was, how it was forgotten for a time, how it was revived by Alice Walker and remembered as a classic.
I know now a whole lot about why this book meant so much to people, as far as its blackness was concerned. I was introduced to it through a vein of other black history fiction, as I am a fan of the genre.
But I love "Their Eyes" for the love story.
I love it because it gently eases us into a story about not settling, and the danger to your heart if you do. It uses Janie as a model for an ancient type of feminist who refuses to accept that a marriage is only supposed to be as good as the examples she sees around her. She rejects the notion that a woman should be glad for a man who provides, even if he demeans her and suffocates her being.
Tea Cake is the real hero of this story, because he comes along with a song in his heart and brings that music into Janie's melancholy world. He saves the day. Through him, we learn alongside Janie what the joy and jubilation of love can, and should be.
Janie teaches us that love isn't always easily recognized, it's not something we need to she modeled in order to be blessed with.
"Love is like de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore."

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