Today would have been Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday. If you haven’t read anything by Hurston, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is a good place to start.
I read this novel in high school and still remember the main character, “Janie Crawford”. She is born and lives in Eastonville, Florida. It’s where Hurston herself grew up and “the first incorporated African American settlement community in the United States,” according to its website.
Janie is a woman whose voice is stifled by her husband and her community. Only when she finds love does she feel that she can become herself. Hurston uses the metaphor of reaching toward the ocean’s horizon to represent what her character feels, but even that is used against her. It’s a story with a tragic ending, but you’ll enjoy the writing. Here’s the full quote from the image above:
It was all according to the way you see things. Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships. But Nanny belonged to the kind that loved to deal in scraps. Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon— for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you —and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her.
I’d recommend reading this book with some background information about Hurston’s life and community in the early 20th century. Let me know if you do!