Their Eyes Were Watching God (Summary)

A great marriage begins with a blooming pear tree and ends with a hurricane, rabies, and a murder trial…or something like that.

American Literature20th-Century American Literature
All American Literature
AuthorHurston - Zora Neale Hurston
FormNovel
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureAmerican Literature
ThemesAppearances
Compassion and Forgiveness
Dreams, Hopes, and Plans
Fate and Free Will
Freedom and Confinement
Gender
Innocence
Jealousy
Language and Communication
Love
Memory and the Past
Mortality
Pride
Race
Sex
Society and Class

Transcript

00:21

... if you listen to my story, you might learn a thing or two about the real Janie Crawford.

00:28

From the time I was a young woman 'til now, I've changed a lot...

00:32

And each time, my heart had somethin' to do with it.

00:35

You could say that I was changed by the men I loved...or didn't love.

00:41

But I'd tell you that it was me doin' the changin'... and those men?

00:46

...well, I'd say they were just lessons I learned about who to listen to

00:50

and who to tell to shove off.

00:53

True love... Ever since I was a young woman, I wanted it.

00:57

Back then I was seduced by the beauty of a pear tree in full blossom,

01:02

a bee pollinating its flowers...

01:04

...subtle metaphor alert.

01:07

And then this boy from my class came walkin' over and in the glow of the pear tree,

01:12

he changed...

01:15

...and so did I, on account of my heart had never made executive decisions over my brain before.

01:19

I guess my heart's always been a go-getter.

01:25

My Nanny was not pleased, even when I explained

01:28

that it was the pear tree and bees pollinatin' and true love and stuff...

01:33

So, my Nanny did what any sensible woman does when she sees her granddaughter kiss a boy

01:38

for the first time...

01:39

...she married me off to some old geezer who

01:42

could never make me feel like that pear tree in bloom.

01:48

Needless to say, Mr. Killicks was not my type.

01:53

I mean, I'm all for a reliable man, Nanny, but not a man I can rely on to threaten to

01:58

kill me when I... disobey him.

02:02

So I took to standin' outside our house

02:04

and gazing off into the distance wishin' for something else...

02:07

...and I wished so hard that I made a man appear...

02:10

...um, well, I mean, he was walkin' down the road whether I liked it or not, but I

02:15

like to think that my heart was tryin' to get what it wanted again....

02:18

...Since me and my long, flowin' locks did convince him to take me along and make me

02:23

Mrs. Joe Starks. Joe was very persuasive himself, and he made

02:29

himself the first mayor of the first all-black city in America: Eatonville, Florida.

02:36

But then that fool tried to persuade me to be nothin' but a common slave to him.

02:42

He made fun of me in front of everybody!

02:48

And this little heart of mine was not having it.

02:52

Then I gave him a piece of my mind back, he got so insulted that he up and died!

02:56

Look, I felt bad and all, but I ain't gonna pretend it wasn't awfully convenient...

03:04

After Joe died, I did just fine on my own, thank you. No one to tell me what to do or

03:08

what to wear...

03:10

...nobody to kiss me under a blooming pear tree.

03:12

But then this young guy named Tea Cake... that's right -- Tea Cake... came by and

03:18

started botherin' me at my store.

03:19

Then my house, annoying me silly.

03:23

And he annoyed me right smack-dab into loving him.

03:27

We left Eatonville straight for rip-roarin', true love adventures! The Eiffel tower! The

03:32

Italian Riviera!

03:34

...well, okay... from Eatonville to workin' on a field in the Everglades. But hey, I ain't

03:39

never been happier. That muck was my own personal pear tree in bloom...

03:44

Now, fallin' in love is a whirlwind and all, but you ain't expectin' no literal

03:49

hurricanes.

03:52

Well, Tea Cake and I had a real whirlwind.

03:57

And my heart learned a few things...

04:00

Love ain't just a pear tree.

04:05

Love is saving your partner from a rabid dog in a hurricane and getting bit yourself.

04:11

Love is...becoming vicious and aggressive because you contracted rabies until you have

04:15

to get shot by the loved one you saved.

04:22

Love is a million memories which shape who

04:24

you are today, and can't no gossipy old hens ruin that.

04:29

Whether they think I'm a biddy or an angel...

04:31

...I'm just me.

04:32

And my heart will do what it wants.