"Their Eyes Were Watching God," Vocabulary from the Foreword 11 words

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" is notable for its strong African American female protagonists who pursue love and respect. This novel is now considered a seminal work and is Zora Neale Hurston's best known novel.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Foreword, Chapters 1-5, Chapters 6-10, Chapters 11-15, Chapters 16-20, Afterword
  1. resilient
    recovering readily from adversity, depression, or the like
    At first it might seem contradictory that a work whose central character is the remarkably resolute and resilient Janie Crawford should start with a dictum about “the life of men.”
  2. dictum
    an authoritative declaration
    At first it might seem contradictory that a work whose central character is the remarkably resolute and resilient Janie Crawford should start with a dictum about “the life of men.”
  3. manifestation
    a manifest indication of the existence or presence or nature of some person or thing
    However, that is one of the many shrewd manifestations of Zora Neale Hurston’s enormous talents: her ability to render a world complete with its codes and disciplines within a few sentences, and then placing in that world her vision of how her people—the women and men of her own creation, her characters—function, triumph, and survive.
  4. swindle
    deprive of by deceit
    From the time she first discovers that she is a “colored” little girl by searching for her face in a group photograph, to the moment she returns to Eatonville, Florida, from the Everglades, not swindled and deceived, as had been expected, but heartbroken, yet boldly defiant, after having toiled in the bean fields, survived a hurricane, and lost the man she loved.
  5. prodigal
    recklessly wasteful
    So in spite of the judgmental voices that greet her upon her return, in spite of the “mass cruelty” invoked by her prodigal status, Janie has earned the right to be the griot of her own tale, the heroine of her own quest, the “member” of her own remembering.
  6. solace
    comfort in disappointment or misery
    She somehow unearthed the solace, or perhaps the desperation, to write.
  7. diaspora
    the dispersion or spreading of something that was originally localized (as a people or language or culture)
    And I include all the international peoples of the African diaspora in this category.
  8. alumna
    a person who has received a degree from a school (high school or college or university)
    Hers were among the books in a glass case in the Barnard library that also highlighted other famous alumna authors, including the poet, playwright, and novelist Ntozake Shange.
  9. pious
    having or showing or expressing reverence for a deity
    If he were too uniformly pious, then rather than being her equal, as he was at work in the fields, he would be worshipped by her.
  10. exigency
    a pressing or urgent situation
    This is a novel with an overpowering sense of exigency and urgency in its layered plot, swift pace, intricate narration, and in the raw anguish evoked by the conflicting paths laid out for Janie Crawford.
  11. nonconformity
    failure to conform to accepted standards of behavior
    Like all individual thinkers, Janie Crawford pays the price of exclusion for nonconformity, much like Hurston herself, who was accused of stereotyping the people she loved when she perhaps simply listened to them much more closely than others, and sought to reclaim and reclassify their voices.