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In what year/time period is Their Eyes Were Watching set?

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tuchula14 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 2, 2011 at 5:33 AM via web

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In what year/time period is Their Eyes Were Watching set?

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cetaylorplfd | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted July 8, 2011 at 6:29 AM (Answer #1)

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Their Eyes Were Watching God takes place in the early 1900s, probably somewhere between 1915 and 1935.  There are several clues in the novel that point to the historical context of the time.  First, Janie moves to Eatonville with Joe Starks and there the couple own a store together.  In most places in the American South, Jim Crow laws were in effect to segregate blacks from the white community.  However, Eatonville (and a few other towns throughout the South) were incorporated as African American towns and these towns were self-governed and therefore did not have Jim Crow laws.  This allowed Joe and Janie to own their business.  Further, later in the novel Janie mentions the downtrodden lives of some of the farmers and this indicates that the Depression has touched the lives of people trying to make a living for themselves.  The novel was published in 1937, so it is likely that Hurston relied on her knowledge of the area in what was then contemporary times.

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