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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Laura Osnard

on 28 October 2014

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Transcript of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Work Experience
The Story in Six Photos
Style Exhibit: Southern Dialect
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Long before the year was up, Janie noticed that her husband had stopped talking in rhymes to her. He had ceased to wonder at her long black hair and finger it. Six months back he had told her, "If Ah kin haul de wood heah and chop it fuh yuh, look lak you oughta be able tuh tote it inside. Mah fust wife never bothered me ‘bout choppin’ no wood nohow. She’d grab dat ax and sling chips lak uh man. You done been spoilt rotten."

In this passage Hurston is describing the decline of Janie's second marriage to Joe Stark.Joe Stark had sold her dreams of love, excitement, and the fun life and that isn't the case. The romanticism and adventure is gone and now she's expected to wrap her hair and put her little nose to the grind stone. Hurston wrote the book in a way that it's clear she knows how to speak and write in proper English but that she also knows the Southern dialect very well. The fact that she wrote the dialogue of her characters the exact way it would sound and be pronounced gives it a reality. Some people bashed writing like this but others such as myself and Henry Louis Gate think of it differently he stated: "ts use of black vernacular immerses readers in the consciousness of an oppressed people, exuberantly expressing their freedom, creativity and individual worth through everyday speech." At the time it roused discomfort or even hostility from black audiences as they found it degrading but she refused to write "protest literature" she just wanted the realities to be known.

Style Exhibit: Imagery
It was a spring afternoon in West Florida. Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the back-yard. She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days. That was to say, ever since the first tiny bloom had opened. It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously. How? Why? It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again. What? How? Why? This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears. The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep. It connected itself with other vaguely felt matters that had struck her outside observation and buried themselves in her flesh. Now they emerged and quested about her consciousness.

Hurston is the queen of imagery. People could just simply state something,but she she uses colorful figurative language to paint the pictures she wants to conveys to her audience; her specialty includes metaphors and imagery. She starts to describe Janie's sexual awakening that day with nature which makes it all the more natural and innocent.

Style Exhibit: Biblical Images
"I god amighty! A woman stay round uh store till she get old
as Methusalem and still can't cut a little thing like a plug of
tobacco! Don't stand dere rollin' yo' pop eyes at me wid yo'
rump hangin' nearly to yo' knees!"

Hurston also used a lot of biblical imagery. She has her characters refer to the old mule as Methusalem (who in the bible lived to be 969 years old) to add some comic relief but to also let the audience know that these people were religious people (as were most African Americans during that time period).
5 Quotations from the Author
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In 1918 Hurston graduated from Morgan Academy in Baltimore
Afterward she attended Howard University in Washington D.C.
She also went on to attend Barnard College & she became the colleges first black graduate
She also went to Columbia
Lives In
Zora Neale Hurston was born on January 7, 1891 in the tiny town of Notasulga, Alabama
She then moved with her family to Eatonville, Florida, when she was still a toddler.
There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
10 Quotes from the Book and Explanation
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by: Zora Neale Hurston
A lot of the questions that the people of the town had such as: whether or not they'd make it past a few years, whether or not the governor & Janie's marriage would last, was Teacake really using Janie for her money were not answered the same day but in due time they found out the answers to all of the pressing questions they had. Only time could tell how everything would happen and be resolved. This quote is even relevant with the struggle of black people. As a black woman in the early 1900's Hurston was faced with adversity and racism at every turn and all that her and her fellow African Americans could do is question when things would finally get better and though she did not get a chance to see as far as the nation has gotten their questions have been answered.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
[Nanny at the sight of Johnny Taylor kissing Janie]: "Janie!"

The old woman’s voice was so lacking in command and reproof, so full of crumbling dissolution, – that Janie half believed that Nanny had not seen her. So she extended herself outside of her dream and went inside of the house. That was the end of her childhood.

The end of Janie's childhood and the most naïve level of innocence is initiated by a single word from Nanny. Curiously, this word does not carry a tone of authoritative reproof, but is marked by its frailty. Janie is more moved by pity for Nanny than actual regret for kissing a boy, and that her childhood innocence is lost not from the awareness of her sexuality, but from disappointing Nanny. Instead of having the "birds and the bees" talk with Janie she is married off almost immediately. Though Nanny does have Janie's best interests at heart it almost seems that she is marrying Janie off at her own convenience of so she can avoid Janie coming home pregnant out of wedlock.

[The porch]: "What she doin coming back here in dem overhalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on? – Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in? – Where all dat money her husband took and died and left her? – What dat ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal? – Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid? – Thought she was going to marry? – Where he left her? – What he done wid all her money? – Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs – Why she don’t stay in her class? –" (1.6)

After Janie decided to "skip town" with Teacake a lot of the men and women of the town were speculating when she would come back and in what state.When they saw her with overalls and her hair still long an swinging, they realized she is as beautiful as ever and they were wrought with jealousy and wonder. This jealousy leads them to gossip and sneer at her but it only underlines their own insecurities as they sit on their porches shriveling up like raisins. I

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 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.

In this quote Janie details the difference between men's and women's dreams and how they tackle them differently. She decided to keep her peace troughout the book however when it was time to get her wish she went for Teacake with no abandon and fell in love the way they deserve.

4.) Love, I find, is like singing. Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much.
This quote basically sums up the book completely in one sentence. Janie searched and searched for love throughout the book and hit a snag at every turn except for when she finally found Teacake. Everyone are very unimpressed with her and her new lover because they feel as though the widow of a mayor should be in mourning until she herself dies or until she finds a man who is very close in social esteem. Instead of being happy for Janie who had indured years of abuse they simply gossiped about her.
There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.
Hurston has written about 6 books, a few essays, and even a couple of plays, so obviously there must always be a story on her heart.
5.) Janie when Joe implies she is old]: "Naw, Ah ain’t no young gal no mo’ but den Ah ain’t no old woman neither. Ah reckon Ah looks mah age too. But Ah’m uh woman every inch of me, and Ah know it. Dat’s uh whole lot more’n you kin say. You big-bellies round here and put out a lot of brag, but ‘tain’t nothin’ to it but yo’ big voice. Humph! Talkin’ ‘bout me lookin’ old! When you pull down yo’ britches, you look lak de change uh life."
In this quote Janie and Joe's marriage has taken an absolute turn for the worst and the older they both get the worst the insult's are. At this point it seems as though that all is left is attacking one another's sexuality. After years of her silence Janie finally retorts back and not only does she attack his manhood but she does so in front of his peers. The men comment on how they couldn't deal with a woman desecrating them like that with no abandon and Joe reacts with violence hitting Janie.
Anthropology field researcher, Harlem (1926)
Anthropology field researcher, Florida (1927)
Anthropology field researcher, Jamaica (1936)
Anthropology field researcher, Haiti (1937)
Federal Writers' Project (1939)
Drama Instructor (1939)
Anthropology field researcher, South Carolina (1940)
Story consultant, Paramount Pictures (1941-1942)
Anthropology field researcher, Honduras (1947-1948)
Maid (1950)

Reporter, Pittsburgh Courier (1952)
Librarian, Patrick Air Force Base (1956)
Columnist, Fort Pierce Chronicle (1957-1959)
Substitute Teacher, Lincoln Park Academy (1958)
6.)They huddled closer and stared at the door. They just didn’t use another part of their bodies, and they didn’t look at anything but the door. The time was past for asking the white folks what to look for through that door. Six eyes were questioning God.
This is where the title of the book stems from. As the couple hold each other in wait for the hurricane to blow over they look heavenward for help. The question in their eyes is an expression that hinges on God’s response; it can lean either towards hope or despair. Watching, in this case, is akin to asking or pleading for divine mercy, begging for a reason to have faith.
7.) The next morning Janie asked like a woman, "You still love ole Nunkie?"

"Naw, never did, and you know it too. Ah didn’t want her."

"Yeah, you did." She didn’t say this because she believed it. She wanted to hear his denial. She had to crow over the fallen Nunkie.
This is the first time in Janie's life that she actually experiences jealousy. The woman causing the jealousy is a chubby woman by the name of Nuckie who has been having TeaCake chase her around. She asks Teacake this ridiculous question because she wants to hear his denial of her. Janie wants to know she's the only one.
8.) Still and all, jealousies arose now and then on both sides. When Mrs. Turner’s brother came and she brought him over to be introduced, Tea Cake had a brainstorm. Before the week was over he had whipped Janie. Not because her behavior justified his jealousy, but it relieved that awful fear inside him. Being able to whip her reassured him in possession. No brutal beating at all. He just slapped her around a bit to show he was boss.
In this excerpt Teacake's jealousy has manifested itself into actual physical violence. He doesn't do it himself because Janie has done anything in particular but he does it to relieve his fears. And the way it is phrased in the book makes it seem like that kind of male aggression is okay, after all this wasn't the first time she'd been beaten.
9.) But oh God, don’t let Tea Cake be off somewhere hurt and Ah not know nothing about it.
It's apparent that Janie doesn't trust Teacake in the least bit and at this point in their fresh relationship she suspects him of taking all of her money and running off with a woman his age. However she does say a small prayer for him which is a show of the love she possesses for him .No matter what she doesn't want him to be somewhere hurt.

Sop and his friends had tried to hurt her but she knew it was because they loved Tea Cake and didn’t understand. So she sent Sop word and to all the others through him. So the day of the funeral they came with shame and apology in their faces. They wanted her quick forgetfulness. So they filled up and overflowed the ten sedans that Janie had hired and added others to the line.
This shows Janie's growth as a character throughout the book. Even though Sop and his friends had testified against her at her trial she still allowed them to come to the funeral and forgave them because she placed herself in their shoes and realized they probably did what they did out of love for Teacake, she could sympathize with that logic but she loved him dearly as well.
If you are silent about your pain they will kill you and say you enjoyed it.
A lot of Hurston's writings are on the plight of African Americans and I think this quote exemplifies why she wrote what she wrote. People have to write about what they know and what she knew throughout her life was the pain of being a black woman in the late 1800's to mid 1900. If she hadn't vocalized her pain people would have never understood or worst yet she would have said she enjoyed it and that it wasn't pain so she took to writing to expose everything she possibly could.
Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me.
Hurston was very indignant had a very shocking personality. She stated she would never write "protest literature" and instead of seeing the Brown v. Education ruling as something good because she said that you can't force the races to mingle and that she found it a sham that white people are being court ordered to embrace her and her people.
"A Whole New World"
I can show you the world
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, princess, now when did
You last let your heart decide?

I can open your eyes
Take you wonder by wonder
Over, sideways and under
On a magic carpet ride
Joe Stark was a man of many words and Janie was a sheltered 17 year old girl. It simply took one conversation to get her on board with her because he sold her a dream. He let her know about this town specifically made for negros and how he could give her the finer things and she was hooked.
"King of Anything"
So many things I'd say if only I were able
But I just keep quiet
And count the cars that pass by

You've got opinions, man
We're all entitled to 'em
But I never asked

So let me thank you for your time
And try to not waste any more of mine
Get out of here fast
After Joe has whisked Janie away and the glow of infatuation has dimmed she realizes that he is out to repress her. She can't give an opinion , wear her hair down, or even participate in a small chess game. Joe is dominant and she is his doormat.
You want to stay with me in the morning
You only hold me when I sleep
I was meant to tread the water
Now I've gotten in too deep
For every piece of me that wants you
Another piece backs away

'Cause you give me something
That makes me scared, alright
This could be nothing
But I'm willing to give it a try
Please give me something
'Cause someday I might know my heart

This is a perfect description for Janie's emotional state when she first meets Teacake. She tries to stay guarded but his Charm melts her heart away but for the beginning of her relationship she is very cautious and almost afraid. However her fear does not hinder her from giving love yet another shot.
"You Give Me Something"
"At Last"
Janie has spent the majority of the book attempting to find love and ultimately herself. It isn't until many many years have passed until she finds it in Virgibil "Teacake" Woods and even if it is brief she can die knowing that she knows what it felt like. What better song to describe such a beautiful feeling then At Last?
At last
My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song

Oh yeah yeah
At last

The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you

I found a dream, that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known

At Last...
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