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American Lit: Lit Circles: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Lit Circles 2016-17

Review

New York Times critic Lucille Tompkins described Their Eyes Were Watching God: "It is about Negroes... but really it is about every one, or at least every one who isn't so civilized that he has lost the capacity for glory."

Author: Zora Neale Hurston

Setting: Central Florida, Late 19th Century

Title

Summary

One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

The novel follows the fortunes of Janie Crawford, a woman living in the black town of Eaton, Florida.TThe citizens of Eaton are inclined to judge is Janie Crawford, who has married three men and been tried for the murder of one of them. Janie feels no compulsion to justify herself to the town, but she does explain herself to her friend, Phoeby, with the implicit understanding that Phoeby can "tell 'em what Ah say if you wants to. Dat's just de same as me 'cause mah tongue is in mah friend's mouf."