Their Eyes Were Watching God Questions and Answers
by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God book cover
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  Is it true that the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God avoided the race issue? Some critics defend that Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God is avoiding the race issue in a context black people needed their voices to be heard. Is it true that she wasn't confrontational? If references available that would be good, but not necessary, just want to have specialists' ideas.    

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James Kelley eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This topic is very good, and I enjoyed reading the replies. My view mostly echoes that of a number of the previous posters, but at the end of my post I give a bulleted list of items that have not yet been raised that illustrate that there is open conflict between blacks and whites in the novel.

Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is not at all concerned with the so-called “Negro problem” or the program of “racial uplift” that dominated much of the writing by African Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but it seems inaccurate to me to say that Hurston avoids the “race issue.” Race seems to me to be everywhere in the novel, and the novel would not be what it is without the emphasis on race.

Consider, for example, the extensive attention given to specifically black American speech patterns, practices and folklore and the equally extensive attention given to racist attitudes within the black American communities that Hurston depicts: Janie’s...

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yoseffrankenstein | Student

if this question has any merit, it would mean that the only things blacks are supposed to write about are what its like to be oppressed by whites. i thought it was refreshing to learn about a side of american culture that was foreign to me, without having race issues shoved down my throat.