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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Beginning – Page 56)

I started reading Their Eyes Were Watching God for a 6-hour plane ride. The first 3 hours, I got a good start on the book…but by the next three, I was coming in and out of sleep. I was on the red-eye flight.

I originally intended to finish reading the book within 3 days of beginning, but as most vacations go, I did not have enough time to read because I was too busy being touristy.

I wound up leaving my book on the subway in order to help promote The Book Fairies organization. Emma Watson has taught me well.

With that said, because I did not finish my book and I gave it away, it will take me a while to order it from the library and finish it. In the meantime, here are my thoughts and favorite quotes from the pages I did read.

The introduction really hypes it up. Especially knowing how much it impacted Alice Walker. However, I have doubts about it being relatable to me. So I will try to separate myself from the story and not expect too much out of it.

The first paragraph in chapter 1 is interesting. Specifically “his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.”
I sense a foreshadowing about the loss of innocence.

“Now, women forget all things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. To dream is truth. Then they act and do things accordingly”  (second paragraph of Chapter 1)
I don’t know if that applies to today’s society. I feel like it’s the other way around now. At least, that’s the case from every woman I know on an emotionally intimate level. We remember the burdens we wish to forget. The ones that ruin us from our dreams. Those demons we must continue to fight for the sake of personal progression. But I do like the idea that dream is the truth. Maybe times were simpler then for women. Maybe when we started taking more responsibility, we started being mocked to death by Time as well. Or maybe we forgot how to dream. How to really dream. By doing so, perhaps that is the thing we forget that we don’t want to remember.

“Dat’s de very prong all us black women gits hung on. Dis love! Dat’s just whut’s got us uh pullin’ and uh haulin’ and sweatin’ and doin’ from can’t see in de mornin’ till can’t see at night. Dat’s how come de ole folks say dat bein’ uh fool don’t kill nobody. It just makes us sweat.” (Page 23)
I just thought this was brilliantly funny. I could read this over and over and have the same conclusion. Clearly, this is going to become a love story where she learns the hard way. Always listen to your wise elders!

The first couple of chapters had a strange transition of narration. First Janie was telling Pheoby the story, suddenly her Nanna was telling Janie a story. It turned into a narration of a narration. All for background information, of course. I will say, though, if I weren’t sleep deprived on a red-eye flight, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the transition. It wouldn’t be a cause for needing to turn the pages back in order to remember who is talking. Moral of this post, don’t read sleep deprived (but what kind of readers would we be if we didn’t stay up late reading?! It’s a right of passage!!! Okay, moving on…)

“Some folks never was meant to be loved” (page 24)
I just want to take a moment to say: OUCH!

“Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.” (page 25)
Did I call it or what?! Loss of innocence!

These were my thoughts upon finishing Chapter 4: I was originally rooting for Lincoln since he sounded like a good husband; especially back in page 22, when she said that “he says he never mean to lay de weight uh his hand on me in malice” and now he’s talking death threats. Clearly, his character turned bitter before we even got to know him. It would have been interesting to see more of Lincoln’s personality in the beginning. He seemed quite compassionate at first until he lost his nerve. It makes me wonder if he sensed her dislike of the relationship or if he was faking it from the beginning then decided to cut the act.

Janie winds up leaving Lincoln for a wealthy man named Jody. Jody, at first introduction, seemed like a gentleman. He complimented her. He was nice to her. He asked her to run away with him. She did. I don’t blame her, especially after receiving death threats and being told no other man would put up with you. Jody and Janie end up in this little mess of a town where Jody decides to be the mayor. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Jody was not a gentleman. He made business his priority and started treating Janie like a slave. He told her how to dress, how to act and of course, she was miserable. But she was spoiled royally so he didn’t believe he was doing anything wrong.

The last quote I liked before having to depart this book came on page 48. A little background to this quote: Janie had a spitting cup decorated with flowers and the women in town didn’t know such cups existed. “It sort of made the rest of them feel they have been taken advantage of. Like things have been kept from them. It was like seeing your sister turn into a ‘gator” 
I liked that quote because of the visual, of course. Also, because the absurdity of the analogy is so real. When you are used to this world and suddenly someone like you is showing you this other, better world; the illusions shatter. Your sister might as well have turned into an alligator because that’s how unbelievable your life seems to be now. To comprehend the level of oppression is a hard one. And although it was over something so small, such as a spitting cup, it is irrelevant. It is a symbolism of luxury. The women were able to live much better lives, and it was kept from them. It is a betrayal. “To dream is truth”

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