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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God

  

by Zora Neale Hurston

Analysis: Tone

Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?

Celebratory; Sympathetic

Hurston’s tone is one of deep appreciation and joyous celebration of the richness of African-American culture. She depicts her characters as having a whole range of flaws...but also redeeming attributes. In other words, these characters are totally three-dimensional, and you don't even have to wear silly glasses in order to enjoy the show.

Many scenes dwell on colorful stories and playful conversations among neighbors in black communities. Although the black vernacular is more of a stylistic choice than one of tone, its very presence proves that Hurston considered it something super special.

More than anything, Hurston’s text is compassionate toward all of its characters. Although Janie condemns some characters for their unforgivable sins, the text takes the time to explain the mentality of every major character—giving readers the context necessary to understand why each character acts as he or she does. Readers can see the often-logical (and emotionally moving) motivations for each character’s actions.

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