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 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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“Love is like the sea. It’s a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the 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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“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

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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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“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’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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“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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“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
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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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“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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“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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