|Their Eyes Were |
Zora Neale Hurston
So, this is another gushing post where I tell you just to go out and get a copy of this book, now, and read it, now.
The book starts with Janie, our protagonist returning home after some time away. The townspeople watch her walk to her house, gossiping, wondering where she's been, what she's been up to. Of course, it's only her best friend Pheoby who actually goes to the house to welcome Janie back home. She's as curious as anyone about Janie. She feeds Janie, and in return is told her story.
Pheoby's hungry listening helped Janie to tell her story. So she went on thinking back to her young years and explaining them to her friend in soft, easy phrases while all around the house, the night time put on flesh and blackness.There are quotable passages on nearly every page. Beautiful, lush, evocative, language everywhere. This book is known for Hurston's use of dialect, and it is noticeable and distinct. She contrasts the colloquial with the ethereal in a way that has to be experienced for yourself.
Here are a couple pictures I took several years ago as I happened across the mass grave site used to bury the people of color who perished during the storm:
|Site finally receives a marker.|
|Wide view of the site.|
While the storm and its aftermath are an integral park of the book, it is not the whole story. This is Janie's story, through and through. She is a remarkable woman, who tries to follow society's rules and still find her happiness, until she realizes that just isn't going to work for her. Through her tale, you can see the limits placed on women like her, and how far we've come - but how far we yet have to go.
Want more like this? Try:
- "The Wrong They Could Not Bury", Dave Scheiber. It's not a book, but read this short article that talks more about the efforts of the African American community to have the mass grave site properly marked and recognized.
- Dust Tracks on a Road, Zora Neale Hurston. Ms. Hurston's autobiography, which includes portions about writing Their Eyes Were Watching God.
- Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser. Another great book with a strong, unconventional female lead.