Black Film

Their Eyes Were Watching God (in full)

Along with Samuel Clemens’ Huckleberry Finn, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is surely one of the most American of great novels. It is a story rooted in the red dust of the Florida outback of the 1930’s; its heroine, the sensual and introspective Janie Crawford, tells her friend Pheby of her three lovers, the stolid Logan Killicks, the fast-talking Jody Starks, and finally, the handsome and endearing Teacake. Her life with Teacake ends in an agonizing choice that forces Janie (and the reader) to wonder if the secure self-hood and love she had won was worth the suffering it exacted. In language that managed to be languid yet urgent with all the possibilities of physical as well as spiritual love, Their Eyes Were Watching God moves like a cool stream through a hot palmetto swamp, a journey of the heart and a woman’s awakening whose universal power has remained undimmed in the 70 years since its first publication. It is no exaggeration to say that it has deeply influenced every African American woman narrative artist, from novelists like Toni Morrison to filmmakers like Julie Dash. via

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