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  • i

    Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston

    Curriculum UnitDorothy M. Hill

    ContributorMary Anne Kovacs

  • Curriculum Unit AuthorDorothy M. Hill, who earned her D.A. at Carnegie-Mellon University, has distin-guished herself in the secondary English field and is the recipient of numerous awards. She also teaches at the university level and has authored The Center for Learning novel/drama curriculum units Song of Solomon, A Dolls House/Hedda Gabler, and Frankenstein.

    Editorial TeamMary Anne Kovacs, M.A. Rose Schaffer, M.A.Mary Jane Simmons, M.A.Bernadette Vetter, M.A.

    Cover DesignKrina K. Walsh, B.S.I.D.

    Copyright 2008 The Center for Learning. Reprinted 2012.Manufactured in the United States of America.

    Printed on recycled paper.

    The worksheets in this book may be reproduced for academic purposes only and not for resale. Academic purposes refer to limited use within classroom and teach-ing settings only.

    ISBN 978-1-56077-879-0

    www.centerforlearning.org

  • iii

    Contents

    Introduction ............................................................................... v

    Teacher Notes ........................................................................... vii

    1 Meeting Janie ......................................................................1 ............................... 1, 2, 3

    2 The Tree of Life ....................................................................7 ................................... 4, 5

    3 An Image Shattered ...........................................................13 ................................... 6, 7

    4 Mr. and Mrs. Mayor ...........................................................17 ................................... 8, 9

    5 A Glance from God .............................................................21 ......................... 10, 11, 12

    6 The Everglades ..................................................................27 ............................... 13, 14

    7 Surviving the Flood ............................................................33 ............................... 15, 16

    8 The Crisis ..........................................................................37 ..................................... 17

    9 Loss ...................................................................................41 ..................................... 18

    10 Like a Pharaoh to His Tomb ...............................................45 ............................... 19, 20

    Supplementary Materials

    Creative Projects ................................................................48

    Making a Portfolio ..............................................................49

    Critics Comments .............................................................51

    Writing Topics ....................................................................52

    Quiz ..................................................................................53

    Quiz Answer Key ................................................................54

    Test ...................................................................................55

    Suggested Responses to Test Questions .............................57

    Bibliography .............................................................................59

    HandoutsPage

  • iv

  • v

    Introduction Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurstons third pub-lished full-length work (1937), was written in the middle of a career rich in recognition and variety. Her work of writing fi ction and essays, researching black communities, and conducting fi eld studies in anthro-pology was rewarded by an honorary doctorate and other awards.

    Zora died, however, in poverty and obscurity. It was another writer, Alice Walker, who, discovering Zoras grave in 1973, launched a Hurston revival which has lasted to this day.

    Their Eyes Were Watching God is valuable as a notable and historic example of black fi ction, a powerful evocation of feminine self-knowledge, and a superlative reading experience.

    Materials in this guide include a complete set of lessons, lists of essay questions, additional activities, and, as a supplement, directions for fashioning a portfolio.

    The virtual reality of a novel may lead the reader into happen-ings never yet experienced. It is better to live through a hurricane in fi ctions pages than to suffer from calamitous winds. In this novel Zora draws her readers into the pain of growing up without parents and the disappointment of loveless marriages. Quite as vivid, however, are the camaraderie of a work crews labor and play in the Everglades and the days and months of true love.

    Hurstons heroine, Janie, does more than live through her expe-riences. As she retells her lifes events to her friend Pheoby, Janie meditates on the meaning of the past, knowing that facts are useless without understanding.

    Hurston, the spellbinder, enriches her narration of Janies life with interpretation. The singing style, rhythmical and euphonious, is fi lled with metaphor, an understanding of which appeals to new depths in the readers imagination.

    Janie is unforgettable. At sixteen she awakens to lifes sweetness. Then she develops from romantic to realist to seer. The reader may well share Pheobys belief that she grows just from listening to Janies story.

    Janie is modern in her feminist sense of herself, her way of moving on when circumstances would otherwise condemn her to an inauthentic life. She attends to the movements of her own consciousness even when the result causes her pain.

  • vi

    The values stressed in this novel are

    the importance of choosing life, being involved in life, rather than being a bystander

    the growth of inner strength with ones advance in self-knowl-edge, as one realizes that self-awareness and detachment are both necessary qualities

    The contrast between a practical business outlook and the in-dependence of a creative spirit

    three special human concepts

    resilience helps one cope with loss and disaster

    men and women are of equal worth

    one needs to be valued and accepted as oneself

    the profi t gained from the guidance of others, but the necessity of not being unduly subservient to others

    the importance of having a full life but also of experiencing something more

    the spiritual relationship of individuals to the natural world

    the presence of God in peoples lives

  • vii

    Teacher Notes This novel uses two literary techniques with which students need to be familiar:

    the frame device for telling a story (A narrator begins by declar-ing, This is the experience I have undergone, and ends by summarizing in a return to the present.)

    the use of dialect to establish a sense of intimacy between reader and speaker, implying the idea, This is how I talk; this is the language of my people.

    Zora Neale Hurston separates her own literary, narrative voice, which uses standard English, from the dialogue of the characters, who speak in the accents and vocabulary common to their locality.

    Throughout the reading, students should be able to do the following:

    1. recognize and remember the frame inside which the action is set

    2. move with understanding from the standard English of the authors narration to the dialect English of the characters

    3. analyze character development; recognize where it deepens enough for the reader to meet what seems to be a real person

    4. distinguish realism from fantasy in the narration to recognize when the characters are spinning off, as they talk, into another world

    5. understand the connotations suggested by the fi gurative lan-guage which is so rich a part of the novel; see that metaphors underline the awareness of Janies understanding of people and Pheobys understanding of Janie

    Portfolio writing is an interesting and valuable way for students to develop their perceptions of literature and their understanding of them-selves. It is explained in this guide as an activity which may expand to a greater degree as needed, depending in part on the independence of the student and the receptivity of the teacher.

    Separating the portfolio directions to the student into reading, writ-ing, format, presentation, and evaluation is meant to give some form to the portfolio work for both student and teacher. Naturally, the plans will be modifi ed according to class needs.

    Reading assignments for Their Eyes Were Watching God are as follows:

    Chapters 14 for Lesson 2

    Chapters 56 for Lesson 3

    Chapters 79 for Lesson 4

    Chapters 1013 for Lesson 5

    Chapters 1417 for Lesson 6

    Chapter 18 for Lesson 7

    Chapter 19 for Lesson 8

    Reread chapter 19 for Lesson 9

    Chapter 20 for Lesson 10

    Answers will vary unless otherwise indicated. Students may need additional paper to complete some handouts.

  • viii

  • 1

    Lesson 1

    Meeting Janie

    Objectives To approach this vivid story with curios-

    ity and interest, accepting the fact that it contains elements in common with our own experience

    To study carefully the frame of the story as it is laid out in chapter 1 so that the rest of the narrative will be seen as existing inside that frame

    To form some early opinions about Janies nature so that her later actions can be ac-counted for against this background

    Notes to the Teacher Two facts of Janies return to her home are worth remembering: that she has been greatly fulfi lled by passing beyond the horizon of this townpeople who never leave, never grow in that special way from the exp

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