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Their Eyes Were Watching God


"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston - Summary

Author: Zora Neale Hurston


"Their Eyes Were Watching God" is a powerful novel that explores the life of Janie Crawford, an African American woman in the early 20th century. The story unfolds through a series of flashbacks as Janie recounts her journey of self-discovery and empowerment to her friend, Pheoby.


  • Search for Identity: Janie's journey is marked by her quest to find her own identity beyond societal norms and expectations.
  • Love and Relationships: The novel delves into Janie's complex relationships, each revealing different aspects of love and partnership.
  • Voice and Autonomy: Janie's struggle for a voice and autonomy reflects the broader theme of African American women's struggle for empowerment.

Plot Summary

  1. Early Life and Marriage: Janie, raised by her grandmother, is pressured into an arranged marriage with Logan Killicks for security. Unhappy and unfulfilled, she leaves him for Joe Starks.
  2. Life with Joe Starks: Joe becomes the mayor of Eatonville, but his domineering ways stifle Janie's independence. After years of unhappy marriage, Joe's death brings Janie freedom.
  3. Tea Cake and the Everglades: Janie finds true love with Tea Cake, a younger man. They move to the Everglades, where they experience joys and hardships, including a devastating hurricane.
  4. Tragic End and Return: Tea Cake's tragic death from rabies and Janie's subsequent trial mark a turning point. She returns to Eatonville, having found her voice and sense of self.


Janie's narrative is not just a story of personal growth but also a reflection of the African American experience during her time. Her journey towards self-realization and independence is a powerful testament to the resilience and strength of women.