Their Eyes Were Watching God

I am pretty sure I’ve reread everything from high school, aside from random Christopher Pike books, but I have no desire to ever read those again. But all the meaningful books I read back in the day, I have reread as an adult, considering I taught high school for a number of years. And I thought of revisiting one that I taught but haven’t read in awhile, but nothing jumped out at me. So, instead of going the high school route, for this challenge, I chose to reread a book that I read in college. In my American Lit II class, we read Their Eyes Were Watching God. The only thing I remembered from this book (which I’m almost positive I did actually read it) was that it was African-American lit and there was a character named Tea Cake in it.

And while I was reading, I was consciously aware that this was a brand new book to me. I remembered absolutely nothing. So, maybe I didn’t read it in college, but that doesn’t sound like me. I slogged my way through everything. In any case, I’m glad I went back to this one. I really enjoyed it, given the plot is pretty sparse. However, the characters are quite rich and the writing was wonderful. Much of it is written in dialect, so I did have to slow down a bit, but once I got the hang of it, for example “Ah” instead of I, I was able to move quicker through it. The main character, Janie, just wants love, the universal desire. She wants to be in love, the sweet nectar honeybee kind of love. Her grandmother wants her to marry for security, so Janie does. It doesn’t work out, though. She moves on to another man, one who promises to love her and treat her well. Eh, not so much there either. Finally, the last one, Tea Cake, does a fair better job. They are like cats and dogs at each others’ throats at times, but he understands her best, but not fully. Such is the way of life, I suppose. Can anyone FULLY understand us?

Even though this book is nearly 80 years old (right? 1937…. my math is terrible), I was able to relate to it. Don’t we all want to be loved, treated right, and understood at our cores?

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