Quotes From Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their eyes were watchin god by Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960) was a memoirist, novelist, and folklorist who was an active member of the Harlem Renaissance literary movement. She was the first black student to study at Barnard college, and later in her career received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her most influential works include Their Eyes Were Watching God, Tell My Horse, Mules and Men, and Moses, Man of the Mountain.

Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) is Hurston’s best known work. Always somewhat controversial, discussions and perceptions of the novel have evolved over the decades since it was first published. The story follows Janie Crawford as she matures from a voiceless teenager compelled to marry against her will, to a woman with greater control over her own destiny.

The book was largely forgotten by the time of Hurston’s death in 1960, but re-emerged as a classic of twentieth-century literature and a staple in women’s studies courses. Here’s a sampling of soulful quotes on life, love, and suffering from Their Eyes Were Watching God

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

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“Then you must tell ’em dat love ain’t somethin’ lak uh grindstone dat’s de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch. 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.”

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Quote from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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

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“All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped. Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood.”

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“She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over.”

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“There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.”

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“She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them.”

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“She didn’t read books so she didn’t know that she was the world and the heavens boiled down to a drop.”

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“So she sat on the porch and watched the moon rise. Soon its amber fluid was drenching the earth, and quenching the thirst of the day.”

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“Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.”

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“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 horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time.”

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

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“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.”

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Zora Neale Hurston 1937

 

Zora Neale Hurston: Books, Publishing, and Publishers
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“She had waited all her life for something, and it had killed her when it found her.”

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“..she began to stand around the gate and expect things. What things? She didn’t know exactly. Her breath was gusty and short. She knew things that nobody ever told her. For instance, the words of the trees and the wind. .. She knew the world was a stallion rolling in the blue pasture of ether. She knew that God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up. It was wonderful to see it take form with the sun and emerge from the gray dust of its making. ” 

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“And I can’t die easy thinking maybe the menfolks white or black is making a spit cup out of you. Have some sympathy for me. Put me down easy, Janie, I’m a cracked plate.” 

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“The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and looked up the road towards way off. She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.”

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“The morning air was like a new dress. That made her feel the apron tied around her waist. She flung it on a low bush beside the road and walked on, picking flowers and making a bouquet…From now on until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything.”

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“An envious heart makes a treacherous ear. They done ‘heard’ bout just what they hope done happened.”

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“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.” 

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“If you’re silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

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“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

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

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“From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom…It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again. What? How? Why? This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears. The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep.” 

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“Her old thoughts were going to come in handy now, but new words would have to be made and said to fit them.”

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“Look lak she been livin’ through uh hundred years in January without one day of spring.” 

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“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.” 

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“She often spoke to falling seeds and said, “Ah hope you fall on soft ground,” because she had heard seeds saying that to each other as they passed. The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and looked up the road towards way off. She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.” 

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“But any man who walks in the way of power and property is bound to meet hate.”

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“Janie saw 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.”

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“Please God, please suh, don’t let him love nobody else but me. Maybe Ah’m is uh fool, Lawd, lak dey say, but Lawd, Ah been so lonesome, and Ah been waitin’, Jesus. Ah done waited uh long time.” 

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“Of course he wasn’t dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking.  The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.”

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“She was a rut in the road. Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels.”

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Their Eyes were watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Two 1937 reviews of
Their Eyes Were Watching God Review

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The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.”

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“You’se something tuh make uh man forgit to git old and forgit tuh die.”

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“She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage!”

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“He drifted off into sleep and Janie looked down on him and felt a self-crushing love. So her soul crawled out from its hiding place.”

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“She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen.” 

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“Somebody wanted her to play. Somebody thought it natural for her to play. That was even nice. She looked him over and got little thrills from every one of his good points.”

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