Their Eyes Were Watching God audiobook is a novel by Zora Neale Hurston that was published in 1937. The novel takes the reader through the tough times of an unrelenting woman Janie Crawford. It takes the reader through a woman with an independent mind. It’s about Janie Crawford, a beautiful, confident, middle-aged black woman who returns to Eatonville, Florida, after being away for some time.
The black people in town gossip about her with some speculating about her past life. They want to know what happened to her husband, Tea Cake. They take her secrecy as someone who is hiding something. But her friend Pheoby Watson defends her even though initially she doesn’t know the whole story. Her friend Phoeby visits and tries to find out her story to unravel what really happened to Janie.
Janie starts with her earlier life and upbringing living with her grandmother. She talks of her bad experiences with her mother who wanted to marry her off fast. She displays her love for her grandmother whom she owes her life. She describes the torment her mother put her through to marry a much older man, Logan Killick.
After marrying Logan, she is miserable as he is hard headed, very unromantic and treats her like a slave. Then she meets Joe Stark an ambitious and romantic man in front of the farm. They secretly court before eloping to get married. Janie travels with Joe Stark to Eatonville an all black community. Janie refers to Joe as Jody.
At Eatonville, Jody aspires to be a leader which he succeeds in becoming a mayor, postmaster, storekeeper and a landlord to the biggest holdings. With time Janie gets bored with the ‘script like’ life of monotony. Jody doesn’t permit her to interact with the common people. He perceives her as an object and tries to make her what he wants her to be, a Mayor’s wife. Janie agrees, but deep inside her, she resents the lifestyle of living as a mayor’s wife. After about 10 years of marriage, they finally break after a family confrontation. Jody becomes sick, but Janie keeps off.
As he is dying, Janie visits him on his deathbed and tells him of how he mistreated her before he dies. After Jody’s burial, Janie feels as she has found freedom in many years. Then she meets Tea Cake, who is 12 years her junior. Janie begins to date Tea Cake despite gossip going around town. Janie and Tea Cake get married 9 months after the death of Jody. She sells Jody’s store and they move to Jacksonville.
In their first week of marriage, Tea Cake steals Janie’s money at night and leaves. Later on he comes back and apologizes. Then they move to Everglades to a shack. Their shack becomes a centre of attention for entertainment and socializing. After two years, a hurricane hits Everglades. As they flee from the rising water while trying to save Janie, a dog bites Tea Cake. By then he doesn’t notice it’s rabid. After 3weeks, he is hit by rabies madness that forces Janie to kill him so as to save her life. She is put on trial, but she is acquitted by all white jury.
Afterwards, she goes back to Eatonville, where people start to gossip about her life while speculating. They talk of Tea Cake running away with her money. Janie finishes recounting to Phoeby, who is impressed by her experiences. Janie goes back to her room where she thinks about her life.
Narration of the Audio Book
Even though then novel Their Eyes Were Watching God Audiobook is told in the third person, it is narrated by Janie. The narrator seems to know the thoughts and motives of other characters. In the end, this story is told by Janie but through another person. It’s very evident that Janie’s mind is used by the narrator from the language used, metaphors used and dialogue. The tone used is sympathetic to Janie.
The story brings to light the various personas used to tell the story, hence bringing in a twist in the story. This twist is fun and exciting as one gets comfortable with both then personas used to story tell.
Their Eyes Were Watching God Audiobook seems to have been inspired by the author’s life at Eatonville, and her research work in rural black folklore, during her studies in Banard College as an anthropologist.
About Zora Neale Hurstons, the Author
Zora Neale Hurstons is the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God Audiobook. Zora Neale Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama on January 7, 1891. Her father, John Hurston, was a carpenter and a preacher at the local Baptist church. Her mother, Lucy Potts Hurston, was a school teacher.
Zora was the 5th born in a family of eight. While still a toddler, the family moved to Eatonville, Florida, the first all black community. Her father worked as a mayor for several years. In 1917, she was enrolled in Morgan Academy Baltimore, where she finished high school. After three years, she was enrolled at Harvard University where she began her writing career. She earned her associate degree. In 1921, the university magazine published her first story. She later moved to New York to Harlem Renaissance. She later joined Banard College and studied anthropology.
This book is a must read. It puts fictitious characters in a real life setting. It portrays a woman’s struggle to fight on things imposed on her. And also she portrays the will to survive. This would be a good read for people who want to know how some women survived during the racism times and what they went through. One actually empathizes with Janie, the main character.
In terms of the story line, the author’s use of different narration styles to bring out her characters will amaze one. On a scale of 1 to 5, one would rate the aspect of the story line 4 out of 5. In terms of narration, the author would definitely earn 5 out of 5, and in terms of audio quality, one would give it a 5 out of 5. The audiobook gives it all. The aspect of being a good narrative and getting a good audiobook is what makes it fun for the book.