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Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston
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Why does Hurston title her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God?  

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No single answer will ever adequately address this question. However, I would argue that any answer would need to include one of the central themes of the novel: that human dreams are attainable if the individual believes strongly enough in pursuing them and acts accordingly.

Too often, we humans tend to look toward others or outside forces for help, deliverance, and salvation. Many of us turn to God. We see this idea at work--and see the title appear in the text of the novel--during the hurricane scene. When the hurricane is bearing down on the living quarters and the people inside are fearing for their lives, they turn their eyes to God, watching to see what fate He will deliver onto them. One of the central messages of the novel is that human beings cannot wait for others to act; they must act on their own and pursue their dreams. Janie learns this first hand not only in her escape from the hurricane but in her pursuit of true love as well. Janie does not wait for her fate to be decided for her, she does not sit by idly "watching God;" she acts and makes her dream a reality. As Hurston writes on the novel's first page, "The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly."

It is Hurtson's intention that the reader learn this same lesson.

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