Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Mommy and Me Book Club)

Thanks for joining my “Mommy and Me” Book Club. I hope you’re enjoying my ongoing “stay in bed and read” series. See my thoughts on the previous book, Looking for Me.

Title:  Their Eyes Watching God

Author:  Zora Neale Hurston

Page No.:  219 pages

Publisher:  Harper Perennial Modern Classics

Price: $13.49 (paperback)

Genres:  fiction; classics, American, African American, historical fiction

Summary:

Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person — no mean feat for a black woman in the ’30s. Janie’s quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots. (From Goodreads)

Parenting Topics:

Without giving anything away (hopefully)…

  • Abandoning Child(ren)
  • Adolescence/Puberty/Sexual Maturity
  • Adoptive Parents
  • Only Children
  • Education/Planning Child(ren)’s Future
  • Growing Up/Coming of Age
  • Milestones/Rite(s) of Passage
  • Mothers and Daughters
  • Moving Away/Long Distance Relationships
  • Parenting Styles

Themes:

With a parenting focus…

Crises

Keep calm and carry on.

The TEWWG characters brave a hurricane. What parenting “storm” are you facing?

Dreams

Follow your dreams – no matter where they take you. Encourage your children to pursue their dreams too. Push. Persevere. 

Life Paths

It’s our duty as parents to help our children along on their journey towards enlightenment, love, and self-awareness.

Parental Figures

Anyone can be a parent, but Mom (or Dad) is a role you play.

Self Fulfilling Prophesies

The way you talk to your child becomes his or her inner voice.

Speech Vs. Silence

Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. 

Quotable Quotes:

On Dreams

“Ah done been tuh de horizon and back and now Ah kin set heah in mah house and live by comparisons.”

On Empathy

“Put me down easy, Janie, Ah’m a cracked plate.”

On Epiphanies

“She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside of her.”

On Expectations

“Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon – for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you – and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her.”

On Grief

“No hour is ever eternity, but it has its right to weep.”

On Humanity

“When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another.”

On Inspiration

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

On Jealousy

“An envious heart makes a treacherous ear.”

On Life

“Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.”

On Light

“If you kin see de light at daybreak, you don’t keer if you die at dusk. It’s so many people never seen de light at all.”

On Love

“Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”

On Misunderstanding

“It was not death she feared. It was misunderstanding.”

On Perspective

“Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships.”

On Time

“Time makes everything old…”

On Wishes

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the same horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.”

Worth Staying Up Late For (after the kids have gone to bed?): 

  • Yes, Stay Up Late!
  • Maybe, But See What’s on TV First.
  • No, Go to Bed!

A classic and canonical work in American, African American, and feminist literature, the book gets better and better every time you read it. It’s hard not to fall in love with this novel, like Janie falls in love with her third husband, Tea Cake. Admittedly, it wasn’t love at first read for me, but after reading it a third time I was smitten. In this coming of age story, “Janie [sees] her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.” She grows through the people she meets and the places she goes. As parents and as people, we’re on a similar journey towards self-discovery. “Who am I? Where am I going?”

Parenting is full of joys and sorrows. To use Tea Cake’s verbiage:  What are your “day thoughts” (polite and filtered) and “night thoughts” (honest and unfiltered) on parenting? Are you on a parenting journey?

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