Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Laura Amy Schlitz

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Author: Zora Neale Hurston

Year: 1937

Famous for: Three husbands, two very different narrative voices, and one terrifying rabid dog.

Main character: Janie, a woman who goes searching for love and finds herself in the process.

The scoop:

For an African American, 1930s rural Florida was, in some ways, paradise. For an African American man, that is. For Janie Starks, not so much. 1930s Florida may have been beautiful and lush, but Janie, the main character in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, still has it rough. Life with her husband(s), at least the first two, is nothing but a string of broken promises. And while both men expect her to work, they refuse to give Janie anything in return—especially a voice of her own.

zora neal hurston, author of Their Eyes Were Watching God | 60second Recap Decoder

But Their Eyes Were Watching God is a coming-of-age story, a semi-magical/semi-spiritual journey-story. Which means that things don’t end as badly as they start out. First of all, there’s husband number three—a guy who genuinely cares about Janie, and who treats her like an equal. And then there’s the joyful, tight-knit Everglades community where Janie earns her place as a whole lot more than just some man’s wife.

Ultimately, though, Their Eyes Were Watching God isn’t really about love—at least not the romantic kind. It’s about learning to love yourself. And to persevere because you’re worth it. And because Zora Neale Hurston is a master storyteller, this message doesn’t come across like some cheesy New Age mantra. Instead, it’s an earned revelation—thanks to a main character who struggles and falls, but always gets back up.

 

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