Wednesday, March 16, 2005

'their eyes were watching god'

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" is a novel about self-discovery. It follows the life of a black woman named Janie in the South during the late 1800s and early 1900s. It begins when she's about 13 or 14 and awakening to the birds and bees, and is pushed into a marriage with a much older man. A few years later, she runs off with a fast-talking and up-and-rising type named Jody Starkes (?) who sets himself up as mayor of a small town, and ultimately she decides that she's no better off there either.

A good chunk of the book is about her last relationship, with a fellow named Tea Cake. It's an easy relationship with romance, fun and being free to be herself, but it ends badly for reasons connecting to the title. ("Their eyes were watching God" is a line from the novel, describing a waterspout that destroys everything when it hits the place where Janie and Tea Cake are living. Including them, ultimately.)

I'm probably off in the details, and can't attest much to the major themes of the book. I read it back in college, about 14 years ago, and although I've had the urge from time to time to go back and reread it, I never have.

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