Their Eyes Were Watching God Part 10: The Title
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Free will vs. Predestination. One of the many interpretations for the title Their Eyes Were Watching God. We personally like, “Stop Staring at Me, Guys...It’s Getting Creepy–the Autobiography of God,” but that’s just us.
|Literature||Their Eyes Were Watching God|
What were they trying to see?
[ laughs ]
This is a tough one. There are a lot of different answers to this.
One of the most popular interpretations of the title is that
throughout slavery, up through the early 20th century,
and as this book was being written,
Black people were looking
to white people for everything. What they were supposed to do
and how they were supposed to act.
And in the time of slavery, they had to just --
They had no other choice.
"Their eyes were watching God"
shows us that they weren't anymore looking to the white people
for the answers. They were looking beyond that.
And they were looking to God.
Whether or not this has a super deep
maybe not. But it's showing
that there is something greater.
For Hurston, God
would be God of everyone.
Not just God of Black people,
not just God of white people, but God of everyone.
And so these people - it's actually mentioned twice in the book, this phrasing -
are really looking past
what their history has been
and saying, "No, there's something bigger
and that's what we should be following."
So let me put a darker spin on that.
Had she titled it Their Eyes Were Seeking God,
there's a darker version,
which, in my mind, is that Christianity
was used as a way to save the souls of the poor
Black heathens in Africa
for Jesus in the afterlife.
And that we were doing them a favor
by making them slaves and forcing them
to worship in the way we white men were worshipping.
It was a catch-all rationale
for why slavery was a good thing
and let people look the other way for one of the great atrocities on Earth.
So another reading would be their eyes were watching God
because they didn't trust the whole notion of Christianity
and everything else that it meant.
They were being enslaved.
Absolutely. And they're seeing God as
destiny, essentially, and saying,
"Do we have free will?
Can we make choices? Or is our path
just set out for us, and this is how it is?"
And that's the great -- It's that duality of the book,
where you wanna go with passion in a direction, but you also don't trust.
- It's like speak softly but carry a big stick. - Absolutely.
Which was the man of the day. All right.
Their Eyes Were Watching God with Dr. Deb. Zora Neale Hurston.
Read it again if you haven't already. It's an awesome book.
[ pen writing ]
What are some intepretations of the title?
What do you think the title means?
I guess that's right.