Monday, August 29, 2016

What would Zora Neale Hurston think of Twitter?

Friday, August 26, 2016

And the winner is...

Chuck Korr!  Congratulations to you, Chuck, and to all our excellent summer readers!

Some comments from our final (Friday) discussion:

  • Hurston arrests me with her writing.
  • The discussion on the store porch about Nature vs. Caution (nurture?) is interesting and plays out throughout the story.
  • In order for Tea Cake to get into the same jealous, suspicious frame of mind as Joe, he had to get rabies,
  • Why can't we have a Leonardo DiCaprio Titanic ending instead of a rabies ending?
  • The trial scene is another manifestation of the light vs. dark issue.  The white women spectators sympathize with the light-skinned Janie while the darker-skinned friends of Tea Cake want to condemn Janie.
  • Janie's shooting Tea Cake is an instance of her having self-agency.
  • The title - Janie (and others in the novel?) are trying to figure out who God wants them to be.  Or is it because God judges everyone that they are all watching Him?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Our grand prize for this year's program.

Thursday discussion of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Twelve (now thirteen) participants with a WIDE variety of opinions at the Thursday discussion.
  • Were Tea Cake and Janie in "love"? Opinions differ today.
  • Self confidence falls in the face of abuse.
  • Jody professed his love but ended up focused only on himself.
  • Love, or relationships, with different people IS different.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday night discussion of Their Eyes Were Watching God with Dr. Rafia Zafar

Discussion of Janie's marriages. Married to Logan in Nanny's parlor (page 191 LOA edition). With Jody, on page 200 (LOA), "Green Cove Springs", he told the driver. So they were married there. . . " But was Logan still alive at this point? Was Janie a bigamist?
If Logan had died by the time Jody had passed, then Janie was legally married to Tea Cake.
Their Eyes Were Watching God, the title. Some things we thought about the title:

  • Janie was not a religious person.
  • page 305 (Library of America edition), As the hurricane came, "They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God."
  • Does Janie see hypocrisy in religion?
  • Jody does not want her to attend church, but does she have a need for God? 
  • In Jonah's Gourd Vine, John was religious, but was he moral?
  • Hurston had strong feelings about beliefs of others, she did believe in a higher spirit, as referenced in her autobiographical Mules and Men.

  • Mrs Turner's comments in chapter 16, why did Hurston have Janie allow the comments to pass with no reaction?
  • Tea Cake's reaction to Mrs. Turner
  • A comparison to the Edward Jones book (which Dr. Zafar is teaching this year) The Known World.
  • How can we have inequality in death? During and after the hurricane all are equal. All of our petty struggles are swept away.
  • Is the hurricane just a hurricane? What does Hurston want us to pay attention to? 
  • Only a catastrophic event can separate Tea Cake and Janie.
  • Tea Cake is killed through the skills that Janie learns from him.
Zora Neale Hurston's use of domestic violence was discussed.
Janie's determination not to let Tea-Cake kill her, and her decision to be alone and her ability to be happy that way were key.
Logan and Jody and their attitudes were compared to characters in early Spike Lee films and to Marie Antoinette.
Janie's sexual awakening as presented symbolically with the blossoming pear tree and the bees was discussed as a particularly beautiful part of the book.
Participants talking about domestic violence in Hurston's work, and interesting comparisons to other characters in other works.

Dr Zafar (left) leading the discussion. Local author, David Linzee (right) pondering the discussion.

About 30-35 people came out for the first August discussion of Their Eyes Were Watching God.
A great big thank you to Dr. Rafia Zafar, from Washington University, for leading the discussion. And a big thank you to The Library of America for all their help with our program this year.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Their Eyes and Symbols

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a brief novel that is loaded with meaning.  A search in our magazine article database, EBSCO Host, for "Their Eyes Were Watching God," and "symbol*" (symbols, symbolism, etc.), yields articles that discuss many elements of the novel and their meanings:

  • Janie's hair
  • mules
  • the hurricane
  • pear tree
  • pollen (and bees)
  • rabies

We're interested in what these (and other) things mean to you.  Comment here and we'll discuss next week!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Movie Version

This Thursday, August 18 at 6:30 pm in the library auditorium, don't miss our screening of Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, which aired in 2005 on ABC.  It was produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions and stars Halle Berry, Ruby Dee, Michael Ealy and Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

The production was nominated for numerous awards, including an Emmy and a Golden Globe for Berry, and won a Best Actor Black Reel Award for Michael Ealy.

Reviewers frequently commented that the film didn't do Hurston justice, particularly in the area of the author's rich use of language. Everyone seems to agree, however, that Berry is a near-perfect rendering of Janie.  Watch with us this Thursday and let us know what you think.

Here are a few of the reviews:

The New York Times' Virginia Heffernan says, "...Ms. Winfrey has always had an uncanny way of getting people to do their homework. And like it."

And Variety magazine says the film "...crucially lacks the tough lyricism and cohesive vision of Hurston's prose."

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Afternoon discussion

17 participants for Friday's discussion.

Moses, Man of the Mountain is actually longer than Jonah's Gourd Vine but read, to some participants, as a shorter book. Others found it enjoyable, but long.

Much of what happens in Moses, Man of the Mountain,

Did Hurston take some of his ideas from Moses and Monotheism by Freud? Moses and Monotheism was first published in 1939, had Hurston read or heard any of the work before writing Moses, Man of the Mountain? One participant pointed out that Hurston had studied with Franz Boas, who was a colleague (friend??) of Sigmund Freud.
Was Hurston influenced by Marxism, attributing some of God's work to man?
Mentu as Merlin, the book in the river as the sword in the stone was mentioned.
Moses introduces the Hebrews to their God, unlike in Exodus and Genesis.
Was Hurston making a statement about having to wait for the next generation for things to be better? To whom is she talking, to whom is she referring?

The language shift that Moses shows puzzled some of us.

  • Moses switching between Egyptian, Minian, and Hebrew. Speaking Hebrew, but switching to Egyptian when he got excited.
  • Aaron and Miriam different in Exodus.
A really good discussion, lots of talk. Friday group rocks.