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Their Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston
Directions: Take out a blank sheet of paper and #1-6. Answer all questions from this slide show on paper.
Hurston lived in Florida,
Lives in the all-black town in the US
Her dad was a priest, a carpenter, and at times a mayor
Her mother was a teacher
She was one of 8 children
1. Question-How would you feel if you were born to a family of eight children?
The end of WW1 through the 1930’s
Talented African-American writers produced poetry, fiction, drama, and essays
Hurston was one of them
W. E. B. DuBois introduced the notion of “two-ness”: a divided awareness of one’s identity as both Black and an American
She Studied at Howard University.
Published in literary magazine (1921)
She moved to New York in 1925.
She became a significant figure in the Harlem Renaissance.
2. Question: Do you know any other successful minority or poor writers?
Use of folk material
Use of the blues
More than just a literary movement
“back to Africa” movement
jazz, spirituals, and blues
Hurston was a great anthropologist.
She wrote about black folklore.
She helped write journals with other experienced writers.
4. Question: What do you think an anthropologist is? Why would Hurston want to be one?
Their Eyes were Watching God was published in 1937
1930s brought an end to openness
Hurston’s style was no longer popular
She received negative reviews
People had to be more conservative, less free, more careful about what they said.
5. Question: What other groups of people have been discriminated against due to cultural changes?
Hurston refused to “honor” gender roles
Her behavior sometimes seemed shocking
She was not popular for a many years
By late 1940’s she could not get published.
In the 1950’s she worked as a maid.
In late 1950’s she had a stroke and entered a home in Florida.
Died penniless in 1960 and was buried in an unmarked grave
In late 60s, Alice Walker rediscovered Hurston’s work.
In 1973, marked Hurston’s grave - “A Genius of the South”.
Walker’s 1975 essay, “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” published in Ms magazine,
Brought about new interest in her work
Spike Lee’s film She’s Gotta Have It is a modern adaptation of the novel
6. Question: Why would these themes be important?
Speech and silence
Power and conquest as a means to fulfillment
Love and relationships v. independence
both positive and negative
Race and racism
issues of race are present
Folklore quality of religion
God is not a single entity
Organized religion never appears
The pear tree and the horizon
Dreams of love and wonders whether love will come with marriage
Born into slavery on a plantation, she bears Leafy. Nanny dotes on her grandchild, Janie
Nanny’s employer and benefactor
Janie’s first husband
Janie’s second husband and the mayor of Eatonville
Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods
Janie’s third husband
Janie’s best friend and confidante
She can be trusted to listen to Janie’s story
The novel begins and ends with two people, Janie and Pheoby, sitting on the porch of Janie’s house
Janie tells her stories to Pheoby during the course of an evening
Janie begins with what has happened in the years since she left Eatonville and memories of her childhood
Story proceeds chronologically
Frame gives Janie a voice in the novel
- Enjoy the book -