Remarkable is Hurston’s use of certain lingo and expressions typical to the black African American of her Floridian community (2024)

In Zora Neale Hurston's novel 'Their Eyes Were Watching God,' one of the remarkable aspects is the author's use of lingo and expressions that are typical of the black African American community in Florida. Hurston herself was a part of this community and she skillfully incorporates their language and expressions into the narrative. This adds authenticity and depth to the characters and their experiences. Hurston's use of language reflects the unique cultural identity of the characters and helps to immerse the reader in the world of the story.

Pain and Agony

One of the most poignant quotes in 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' is: "Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought. Nanny entered this infinity of conscious pain again on her old knees." This quote captures the profound pain and agony that the era of slavery brought to millions of ordinary people, especially members of the black community in America.

Although the main plot of the novel is set after the era of slavery, Janie's grandmother, Nanny, is one of the few characters who lived through that era and directly experienced its horrors. Nanny used to work at the Savannah plantation, where she was sexually abused by her owner. This quote reflects the deep emotional scars left by the era of slavery and the American Civil War. Through the character of Nanny, Hurston aims to depict the pain and suffering endured by African American women during this dark period in history.

Forgotten Dreams and Passions

Another powerful quote from the novel is: "For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time." This quote highlights the recurring theme of shattered dreams and unfulfilled passions in the lives of women like Janie from her generation.

In the society depicted in the novel, it had become the norm for women to watch their dreams fade away or remain just out of reach. However, Janie refuses to accept this fate. She is determined to make a change, even if it means going against societal expectations and pursuing her dreams alone. This quote reflects Janie's unwavering resolve to live life on her own terms and not let her dreams be crushed by the passage of time.

Fear and Loyalty

In 'Their Eyes Were Watching God,' Hurston explores the concept of fear and its role in instilling loyalty. One quote that captures this idea is: "Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom." Hurston suggests that fear is necessary for loyalty and that it is a powerful tool used by those in power to maintain control.

This theme of fear and loyalty is also reflected in the broader context of white supremacy and racial hierarchy. Hurston portrays a culture of white dominance that permeates the book, stemming from the era of slavery when white people held absolute power over black people. The use of fear to maintain control and enforce loyalty is a technique that has been employed by the white ruling class throughout history, from the era of slavery to the present day.

Man's Understanding and the End of it

One of the most poetic lines in the novel is: "The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time…They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God." This quote occurs during a disastrous hurricane in the Everglades, where the characters Janie, Tea Cake, and Motor Boat find themselves in a life-threatening situation.

As they face the chaos and uncertainty of the storm, they come to realize that human understanding has its limits and that there are forces beyond their control. In this moment of crisis, they turn to a higher power, symbolized by God, for guidance and strength. This quote encapsulates the characters' recognition of their own vulnerability and their reliance on something greater than themselves.

Fitting in and the Joy that Follows it

In 'Their Eyes Were Watching God,' the Washburns are portrayed as a loving and accepting family. One quote that highlights their kindness and inclusivity is: "So when we looked at de picture and everybody got pointed out there wasn’t nobody left except a real dark little girl with long hair standing by Eleanor." The Washburns, who are white, treat Janie with respect and kindness, regardless of her race.

Janie is fortunate to grow up in the Washburn household, where she is treated as an equal. This experience allows her to forget, for a time, the racial barriers that exist in society. The quote emphasizes the importance of acceptance and support in fostering a sense of belonging and joy.

White Supremacy and Racial Hierarchy

Throughout 'Their Eyes Were Watching God,' Hurston explores the theme of white supremacy and its impact on racial hierarchy. One quote that reflects this theme is: "Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see."

The novel delves into the history of slavery and the enduring legacy of white dominance over black people. Hurston highlights the pervasive influence of white power structures and the dehumanization of generations of black individuals. The quote underscores the reality of racial inequality and the limited opportunities available to black people during the time period depicted in the novel.

Ambition and Go-Getting

The character of Joe Starks, also known as Jody, embodies ambition and determination. One quote that captures his drive is: "Joe Starks from in and through Georgy. Been workin’ for white folks all his life… He had always wanted to be a big voice, but de white folks had all de sayso where he come from…"

Despite facing racial barriers and limited opportunities, Jody remains resolute in his pursuit of success. He refuses to let the opinions and control of white people dictate his aspirations. This quote highlights the importance of having ambition and the willingness to work hard to achieve one's goals, even in the face of adversity.

Envy and Jealousy

In 'Their Eyes Were Watching God,' Hurston explores the destructive nature of envy and jealousy within the black community. One quote that addresses this issue is: "Us colored folks is too envious of one ‘nother. Dat’s how come us don’t git o further than us do. Us talks about de white man keepin’ us down! Shucks! He don’t have tuh. Us keeps our own selves down."

Hurston sheds light on the phenomenon of black individuals undermining and sabotaging each other's progress. This quote suggests that the lack of unity and support within the community hinders collective advancement. It serves as a reminder of the importance of solidarity and cooperation in overcoming systemic barriers.

Support and the Lack of it

The lack of support becomes a significant factor in Janie's failed marriage to Joe Starks. One quote that reflects this issue is: "Mostly he talked about plans for the town when he got there…Janie took a lot of looks at him and she was proud of what she saw. Kind of portly like rich white folks."

Janie's disappointment stems from the lack of support she receives from Jody in pursuing her own dreams and aspirations. This quote highlights the importance of mutual support and understanding in a relationship. Without the freedom to express herself and receive support, Janie's marriage ultimately fails.


What kinds of quotes are found in 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' by Zora Neale Hurston?

Zora Neale Hurston's novel 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' contains quotes on a wide range of subjects, including love, race, gender equality, and women's rights. The quotes reflect the diverse themes explored in the book and provide insights into the experiences and perspectives of the characters.

Did Hurston ever get married or have kids?

During her lifetime, Zora Neale Hurston was married three times, but none of her marriages lasted. She did not have any children within or outside of her marriages. Hurston's personal experiences and relationships may have influenced her portrayal of marriage and relationships in her writing.

Why did Hurston die broke and homeless?

Zora Neale Hurston faced financial difficulties later in her life and died with limited resources. One of the main reasons for her financial struggles was a falling out with prominent literary figures and publishers. This led to a lack of publishing opportunities and limited recognition for her work. As a result, she struggled to earn a stable income and ultimately died in poverty.

What is the first line in 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' by Zora Neale Hurston?

The first line of 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' is: "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." This opening line sets the tone for the novel and introduces the theme of longing and desire for a better life.

What is the most iconic sentence in Hurston's 'Their Eyes Were Watching God'?

"They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God" is arguably the most iconic sentence in 'Their Eyes Were Watching God.' This sentence captures the characters' resilience and their ability to find strength and guidance in the face of adversity. It symbolizes their unwavering faith and belief in a higher power.

Remarkable is Hurston’s use of certain lingo and expressions typical to the black African American of her Floridian community (2024)
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