Like most books that get deemed classics, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was a bit depressing. As I said in my review of The Color Purple, I have a hard time with depressing literature and films. But, that doesn’t detract from the fact that this book had a strong message to send to all readers. In the end, this is a story about living life.
The main character in this story is a woman named Janie whose life, especially in the matters of love and marriage, didn’t start out as smoothly as she had hoped. After being married off by her grandmother to a farmer, Janie runs away from her husband with another man she meets, Joe, and the two of them get married. She hopes her life with Joe will be more fulfilling, but once he becomes town mayor, he never seems to have time for her and never allows her to do anything fun. Finally, she meets a young man (12 years younger than her) named Tea Cake. It is with Tea Cake that she dares to let herself imagine that she might finally be happy.
Though the story is horribly sad at times, there are some happy moments too. As a reader, I found myself sympathizing with Janie and wanting something good to happen for her. She is a strong woman you can’t help rooting for. I particularly like the fact that she leaves the husband her grandmother forced her to marry nearly as soon as she has the opportunity to. She wasn’t about to be tied down by something she never wanted for herself.
A line in the book state, “There is two things everybody got to find out for theirselves. They got to find out about love and they got to find out about living.” In the end, this is what this story is all about: learning to appreciate love and life, simply for how they are given to us, not for what we might have wished them to be.