Zora’s love

January 20, 2011

I was checking the events calendar at Washington College yesterday and saw this book title and author:  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.  Both were unfamiliar to me….so I checked out a copy at the library and spent 4 hours last night reading it from start to finish. 

Hurston, a black woman writer, wrote in the 30’s and 40’s, but was not favorably received by black, male authors.  One commentator said that the men didn’t think she was angry enough, so they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, listen to her. They compared her works to a “minstrel show, created just to make white men laugh.”  Consequently, this book was out of print for 30 years, only being rediscovered in the 70’s, when an about face occurred; it was then highly acclaimed.

It was a good story and I found treasures:  things that I just wanted to write down somewhere, simply to remember because they were good.  Below are a few of the gems that I found.

Janie, one of the main characters, said:  “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. 

 ‘Lawd!’ Pheoby breathed out heavily, ‘Ah done growed ten feet higher from jus’ listenin’ tuh you, Janie…’

‘Now, Pheoby, don’t feel too mean wid de rest of ’em ’cause dey’s parched up from not knowin’ things.  Dem meatskins is got tuh rattle tuh make out they’s alive.  Let ’em consolate theyselves wid talk.  ‘Course, talkin’ don’t amount tuh uh hill uh beans when yuh can’t do nothin’ else.  And listenin’ tuh dat kind uh talk is jus’ lak openin’ you’ mouth and lettin’ de moon shine down yo’ throat.  It’s uh known fact, Pheoby, you got tuh go there tuh know there.  Yo’ papa and yo’ mama and nobody else can’t tell yuh and show yuh…

…It was all according to the way you see things.  Some people could look at a mud-puddle and see an ocean with ships.  But Nanny belonged to that other kind that loved to deal in scraps.  Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon–for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you–and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her….[Janie] had found a jewel down inside herself and she had wanted to walk where people could see her and gleam it around….When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over.  Then after that 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, but the mud is deaf and dumb.  Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine.”

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