Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, set in the 1930's Florida, showcases protagonist Janie Crawford. She starts out as a young impressionable girl stuck in a world where she is expected to conform into expectations of her set by other people. As the novel progresses, Janie grows into a strong woman changed by her experiences and her ability to hold onto what makes her the person she truly is.
Her story is told in her own words with a strong, beautiful voice articulating each point in her life with enough detail to trap the audience into. Janie starts her tale off talking about living life with her grandmother, otherwise known as Nanny. Then she describes her life throughout her three different marriages, her last one with her true love, Tea Cake. Throughout all these marriages, Janie really blossoms and understands herself, a half black and half white person in a world where no one could love, live, and understand life as she does. Janie’s journey to understand her identity is truly worth reading.
When I started reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, I fell in love with the beautiful lyrical writing style although it was difficult for me to get used to the southern dialect which Hurston used for much of the dialogue. However, that did change once I became more engrossed in the story of Janie. Their Eyes Were Watching God showcases a strong female protagonist that stands up again and again regardless of the struggles she faces and comes to understand her identity in this world. This novel has left a legacy that allows it to be discussed as an important piece of literature pertaining to things like women's rights, the Harlem Renaissance, Black Lives Matter, etc. This is a book that I would recommend anyone and everyone to read because, by the end of it, you really come to understand what an identity means to a person and how to live as yourself.
-Nitya, (Dusen)Berry Blogger and member of the River Teen Advisory Board