Zora Neale Hurston’s novel highly praised novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, was once denounced by many critics because it was categorized as a feminist novel. However, through further analyzation, the novel is now viewed simply as a protagonist developing a feminist conscience throughout her marriages.
Zora Neale Hurston was born in Natasulga, Alabama on January 7, 1891. Mrs. Hurston was the fifth of eight children to John Hurston, a carpenter and Baptist preacher, and Lucy Potts Hurston, a former schoolteacher. At a young age, Zora Neale Hurston relocated with her family and moved to the nation’s first incorporated black town, Eatonville, Florida. In Eatonville, Hurston was a privileged young woman living in an eight bedroom house on five acres of land. In this city, Hurston was capable of seeing the “black achievement” at its best. Zora was often recognized as the rambunctious child, despite her recurring run-ins as being the preacher’s daughter (The Official Website of). In 1904, Zora’s picturesque lifestyle came to an end. At the age of 13, Hurston’s lost her mother, and in the same year was forced to leave school to take care of her brother’s children. Soon after, Hurston’s father married Mattie Moge, a young woman six years older than Zora.
In 1917, at the age of 26, Zora Neale Hurston left home and disguised herself as a 16 year old and moved to Baltimore, Maryland to continue her education at a high school level. Following graduation, Zora enrolled in Howard University and received her associate’s degree a year after. In 1925, at the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance, she moved to New York City to enroll at Barnard College to study under the founder of the discipline of anthropology, Franz Boas. During her time at Barnard, Zora married her prevailing boyfriend Herbert Sheen, but the marriage was short-lived.
After graduating from Barnard, Hurston moved back to Eatonville, Florida to seek inspiration for ever-growing writing career (Biography). Some of Hurston’s most famous literary works included: The First One (1927), Mule Bone (1930), Jonah’s Gourd Vine (1934), Mules and Men (1935), and her award-winning novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).
One of Zora Neale Hurston’s novels, Their Eyes Were Watching God, features a charismatic young woman who learns that love is not what you can physically take from a relationship but, a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person (Merriam). The story takes place in Eatonville, Florida, where the protagonist of the story, Janie Crawford, returns from an extensive departure. Janie is immediately looked down upon and judged by the fellow townspeople, based on her outward appearance. Janie’s close friend Pheoby Watson stands up for Janie and visits her to see what has happened. Their conversation frames the story that Janie relates (SparkNotes).
Janie explains that Nanny, Janie’s grandmother and guardian, instilled in Janie to marry someone that can provide her with...