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Should their eyes have been watching God? Hurston's use of religious experience and Gothic horror.

The title of a literary work may be leading or misleading, but it is often a good place to start an analysis. When title words or phrases are repeated inside the text, connecting them to the specific place where they appear seems to offer the promise of a key for decoding the meaning of the whole work. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a suggestive but perplexing title for Hurston's Bildungsroman of a woman's self-discovery through a quest for meaningful community. Dolan Hubbard attempts to illuminate the title by relating it to the place where its words appear in the body of Hurston's text, and analyzing it within the context of sermons and religious language. It is placed in the text just when Janie and the other folk bean pickers are beginning to realize the awesome power of the storm on the Everglades, and how weak they are when faced with God's power. Hubbard finds that the title words signal a religious transcendence of white oppression:

The storm in this, Janie's last movement toward the horizon, symbolizes the struggle the corporate black community has to come to terms with in the oppressor's negation of its image. Out of this negation, the mythic consciousness seeks a new beginning in the future by imagining an original beginning. The social implications of this religious experience enable the oppressed community to dehistoricize the oppressor's hegemonic dominance. Metaphorically, the phrase their eyes were watching God means the creation of a new form of humanity - one that is no longer based on the master-slave dialectic. (176)

I would argue, however, just the opposite: that the title phrase, placed in the text at this particular point, demonstrates just how dependent on the master-slave dialectic and the principle of authority the Everglades folk community really is for Hurston. The title provides a clue to the complexity of her narrative and her ambivalence concerning the possibility of truly autonomous African American folk life.

Hubbard's interpretation accords with much Hurston criticism that Their Eyes is an "affirmative" text, an optimistic portrayal of a vital and creative black folk world completely separate from the hierarchy-conscious Jim Crow South. To take a well-known example, Alice Walker cites Hurston as an example of black "racial health" for her refusal to dwell on the depredations of racism and white prejudice, and for focusing instead on vital and creative African American folk life. For Walker, Hurston's work presents "a sense of black people as complete, complex, undiminished human beings, a sense that is lacking in so much black writing and literature" (xii-xiii). It is certainly true that, in contrast to many "protest" novels, most notably Wright's Native Son, Their Eyes creates a space for rural black folk culture, both in Hurston's own native town of Eatonville, and in the folk community of the Florida Everglades.(1) In the first parts of the novel, these isolated black communities serve as the backdrop for the optimistic story of Janie's quest for self-discovery.

On the other hand, there is much in Their Eyes that is not optimistic and uplifting, but tragic and frightening, especially in the last quarter of the story, beginning with the storm on the Everglades: the "monstropolous" and menacing Lake Ocheechobee, grotesque encounters with the bodies of those caught in the storm, the mad dog that bites Tea Cake and gives him rabies, the body-burying detail in Palm Beach, and, perhaps most frightening of all, the evil transformation from loving angel to homicidal devil that rabies works on Tea Cake. All these horrors accord ill with the positive tone of Janie's life before the storm and signal, I would argue, an intentional genre change on Hurston's part, a switch from optimistic quest to gothic horror. While Their Eyes is certainly about the creativity and vitality of the black folk community, the book is far more than a propagandistic exercise in racial "uplift." Too little critical attention has been paid to horrors in the novel and to this dramatic change of genre, and, as a result, critics have not sufficiently explained the narrative complexity of Hurston's book.(2) It is a multi-layered exploration of the real, as opposed to the imagined, independence of any black American folk community from the larger American culture, and specifically the immunity of the black folk community to the principle of hierarchy, a cornerstone of the master-slave dialectic to which Hubbard refers.

The novel's generic complexity dramatizes Hurston's ambivalence concerning the prospects for folk culture to remain (or become) truly independent of white American values. The first three-quarters of Janie's story are an optimistic quest narrative of self-discovery. Janie finds increasingly more freedom as she moves along the steps of her journey: Nanny, Logan Killicks, Joe Starks, and, finally, Tea Cake and the egalitarian folk community of the Everglades. Here, daytime bean picking is subordinated to the real business of life, nighttime "dancing, fighting, singing, crying, laughing, winning and losing love every hour" (197). Free from white urban commercialism, the folk community also seems free of white prejudices, and Tea Cake as its representative stands in contrast to the snobbery and chauvinism of Starks. Participation in the folk community and the love of Tea Cake seem to be the fulfillment of Janie's quest.

Then comes the storm, and Janie's story is transformed in the space of a few pages into a kind of gothic horror thriller with the storm, the mad dog, and Tea Cake's murderous delusions. But however horrible the hurricane becomes, it is the immediate prelude to the storm that is key to an understanding of Hurston's purpose in transforming her story from quest to gothic horror. In the heart of the crisis, the characters display bravery and self-sacrifice. However, just before the storm, when they are subject to fear and vague threat, the bean pickers' folk consciousness is put to the test, and found wanting. The genre change from quest to gothic horror represents a trick that Hurston plays on the reader in order to dramatize the greatest threat to folk culture that Hurston finds in the United States. This threat is the complacency of those who think that their folk heritage protects them from participating in the prejudices and attachment to hierarchy associated with white America. Hurston shows that even the folk community of the Everglades in not in fact immune to prejudice and snobbery, and it is just at the point where the book changes from optimistic quest to gothic horror thriller that the admirable egalitarianism of the folk community shows the ideological cracks - racism, materialism, and a magical belief in the power and goodness of those in authority - that threaten to undermine it completely.

The coming of the storm takes the folk community completely by surprise. When an Indian explains why the Seminoles are starting to head east out of the Everglades, that they are "'going to high ground. Saw-grass bloom. Hurricane coming,'" the bean pickers are unimpressed:

Everybody was talking about it that night. But nobody was worried. The fire dance kept up till nearly dawn. The next day, more Indians moved east, unhurried but steady. Still a blue sky and fair weather. Beans running fine and prices good, so the Indians could be, must be, wrong. You couldn't have a hurricane when you're making seven and eight dollars a day picking beans. Indians are dumb anyhow, always were. (229)

As soon as the folk community is threatened by an outside force - in this case, the power of nature - it begins to display white attitudes. The first of these is a modern dismissal of tribal lore, a short-sighted and close-minded empiricism that discounts other ways of knowing nature. Convinced of its own monopoly on the truth, this narrow empiricism verges on fanaticism or even superstition. Is it more rational to dismiss the possibility of a hurricane because bean picking still yields "seven and eight dollars a day" than it is to heed natural signs? Related to this are bigotry and materialism more typical of white America than of black folk culture. After all, the Bahamians do not share these attitudes. On the contrary, while the American blacks will not be budged, Lias the Bahamian decides to leave because he trusts the Indians' judgment, and relies like them on natural signs -" 'De crow gahn up, man.'" Tea Cake disagrees: "'Dat ain't nothin'. You ain't seen de bossman go up, is yuh? Well all right now. Man, de money's too good on the muck. It's liable tuh fair off by tuhmorer. Ah wouldn't leave if Ah wuz you'" (230).

What does this response say about Tea Cake? Claire Crabtree summarizes the standard interpretation of Tea Cake as an embodiment of the open-mindedness that separates black folk culture from white America: "Above all, Tea Cake is associated with vitality and freedom and is unhampered by the orientation toward white values which is the flaw of characters like Starks, Nanny and Mrs. Turner" (60). However, when, like the rest of the American bean pickers, he dismisses the Indians' lore, Tea Cake speaks less as a follower of folklore than as an American. He is skeptical of tribal knowledge, is wedded to Mammon, and credences the authority of whites. Tea Cake decides to stay because "'de white folks ain't gone nowhere. Dey oughta know if it's dangerous'"(231). Though he is one of the leaders of the Everglades folk community, and certainly not shy about asserting control over Janie, here Tea Cake is willing to submit himself against both folk sense and common sense to white leadership. If anything, on this particular point Tea Cake seems more, not less, hampered by an orientation toward white values than Starks, who did not look to white leadership, but decided to set up shop in all-black Eatonville because he knew that, if he were ever to succeed, he would have to get out from under the control of whites.

A brief comparison between Hurston and Richard Wright may be instructive here. In contrast to "protest" writers like Wright, who sought a more rational understanding of social conditions to counteract the irrationality of racism, Hurston was skeptical of Western rationalism, and promoted an alternative to it in the form of African-derived folklore. But her justification of folklore in Their Eyes is framed in oddly rationalist terms: In touch with nature and aware of its awesome power for both creation and destruction, the tribal lore of the Indians and Bahamians is actually more rational than white, Western thought, since the latter is fettered with illogical racial prejudices and a magical belief that money and technology can conquer natural forces. Of course, Hurston's portrayal of isolated black folk culture as vital and creative contrasts sharply with Wright's grim focus on urban ghetto dwellers hollowed out by the effects of racism. Yet, it would be a misreading of the scenes before the hurricane to claim that the bean pickers are a good example of isolated black folk culture. The Indians and Bahamians, both more distant from white American values than are the American blacks, are far better models of folk consciousness.

The problem with Tea Cake and the rest of the American bean pickers is that they have been influenced by white culture in ways that they do not realize. Hurston sees this influence as an infection not unlike the rabies that will strike Tea Cake over a month after the dog bite during the storm: It can lie dormant for some time, but once symptoms occur, the effects are irreversible. Savagery will set in, and death may be the only cure. With rabies, early treatment is the key, and Tea Cake could have been saved if he had not been so cavalier about the dog bite. For Hurston, the cure to America's savagery of racism, chauvinism, and materialism was folklore. So it is shocking when, in her 1950 essay "What White Publishers Won't Print," Hurston discusses a kind of "folk" lore that is not vital, creative, and empowering, but the opposite - archaic, smothering, and imprisoning, in short, the world of white racial prejudice. At its center are various stereotypes about African Americans, especially the myth of "reversion to type":

This curious doctrine has such wide acceptance that it is tragic. One has only to examine the huge literature on it to be convinced. No matter how high we seem to climb, put us under strain and we revert to type, that is, to the bush. Under a superficial layer of Western culture, the jungle drums throb in our veins. (172)

Bitterly ironic, Hurston's characterization of bigotry and white supremacy as folk belief adds another dimension to her view of the value of myth. Not all "folklore" or received popular belief is liberating, egalitarian, or life-giving like the stories collected in Mules and Men (1935); some myth, like the "folklore" of racism, is just superstition that prevents people from acting in their own best interests.

To return to Their Eyes Were Watching God, it becomes clear that Tea Cake and the Everglades bean pickers are the victims of this negative "folk" belief. Even more frightening for Hurston, the bean pickers under strain actually confirm the stereotype of "reversion to type." Just as rabies transforms Tea Cake into a monster, so the fear and uncertainty created by the approach of the storm transforms the open-minded and vital bean pickers into "savages." But, as in her use of the word folklore to describe vulgar racism, savagery for Hurston here should be understood ironically, since she employs the racist stereotype only to then turn the tables on it.

In the stereotype, Western culture is good, because it restrains the natural violence, lust, and barbarity of tribal peoples. By contrast, in the novel, it is tribal culture which is life-giving and nurturing, and the bean pickers would be better off if they had more of it. Instead, they are only superficial, leisure-time participants in folkloric culture; underneath, they are essentially Americans. When their leisure is threatened, they fall back uncritically on hierarchical thinking, with its magical valuation of power and money. Rather than reverting to the African beast, as the white stereotype would have it, they revert from their black beliefs - creative, vital, egalitarian - to an inferior set of destructive white myths suitable only for truly superstitions, modern American "savages."

When the storm picks up, the bean pickers' reliance on white ways of thinking is extended into a reliance on whites themselves. Though increasingly uneasy, the American blacks do not follow the Indians and Bahamians out, but rely on the judgment of the whites: "The folks let the people do the thinking. If the castles felt themselves secure, the cabins needn't worry" (234). "Castles" and "cabins" merges images of feudalism with American plantation slavery, suggesting that the blacks' trust in the judgment of the whites is a kind of medieval (European) superstition and, further, that slaves should not look to their masters to consider their best interests. Yet the cabins decide with their masters to remain and weather the storm: "Chink up your cracks, shiver in your wet beds and wait on the mercy of the Lord," a decision followed by a surprising piece of wishful thinking - "The bossman might have the thing stopped before morning anyway" (234).

Thus, by the time the title phase appears in the text, Hurston has given the folk community a chance to contradict all the egalitarianism and attachment to folklore that it stands for. Tea Cake and the others have denigrated indians and tribal lore in general; they have shown that they care about money more than common sense; and they have demonstrated their trust not merely in white values (materialism, skepticism of folk knowledge) but in the almost divine power, knowledge, and benevolence of whites themselves. This sets the stage for the bean pickers' awe at the power of the storm, and the religious experience that Hubbard describes. Overawed by the violent power of God/Ole Massa, the bean pickers cannot help but respect the exercise of power, even if it is directed against them. This produces a certain kind of enlightenment:

"If you kin see de light at daybreak, you don't keer if you die at dusk. It's so many people never seen de light at all. Ah wuz fumblin' round and God opened the door." . . .

The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God. (236)

Hubbard argues that being suspended between life and death just before the storm represents Janie's finest hour, "a religious response born of her having to come to terms with the impenetrable majesty of the divine" (176).

If we read this passage in isolation, and in terms of orthodox Protestant theology, as Hubbard does, the image of God opening the door certainly does sound like revelation, perhaps even a kind of epiphany that might save Janie and the others. But such a reading would fail to account for earlier references to God while the storm is brewing, or to accord with Hurston's attitude toward Christian doctrine and belief in divine omnipotence.

Let me deal with Hurston's attitude toward religion first. In the section of Dust Tracks on a Road entitled "Religion," Hurston describes her childhood questioning of Christian tenets that seemed absurd to her at the time: that children could not play on Sunday, that God hated for Christ to die but let him do it nonetheless, that because Christ died "folks did not have to die any more." Though the angry response of her father, the Rev. John Hurston of the Missionary Baptist Church, quickly taught the young Zora to keep her questions to herself, her head remained "full of misty fumes of doubt" (268):

As I grew, the questions went to sleep in me. I just said the words, made the motions and went on. My father being a preacher, and my mother superintendent of the Sunday School, I naturally was always having to do with religious ceremonies. I even enjoyed participation at times; I was moved, not by the spirit, but by action, more or less dramatic. (269)

What Hurston would later take from her father's church was the creativity of folk expression that the communal worship allowed, rather than any kind of attachment to Christian belief. indeed, Hurston describes such belief as a crutch for the weak, a fiction constructed because "the great masses fear life and its consequences"; and "though the omnipotence they rely on is a creature of their own minds," they cling to it because "it gives them a feeling of security" (277-78). Concluding this section, Hurston makes it dear that such religion has no attraction for her: "It seems to me that organized creeds are collections of words around a wish. I feel no need for such" (278-79).

Though she may have rejected the beliefs of Christianity, Hurston was not closed to the possibilities of the spiritual or supernatural realm. When investigating hoodoo in New Orleans and voodoo in Haiti, she developed a profound respect for the understanding of nature displayed by these African-derived folk religions. In Mules and Men, she shows some reticence in describing her experiences with the supernatural while the apprentice of several hoodoo doctors in New Orleans; yet, as Hemenway explains, with careful reading, it becomes clear that "Hurston ultimately reveals her conviction that these men and women [hoodoo practitioners], considered irrationally superstitious by most observers, have discovered many of nature's secrets. Time after time she reports that her 1928 trip found hoodoo rituals to be successful" (122). She felt the same about Haitian voodoo, and was attracted to its sensuality and its understanding of the mystery of all mysteries, the source of life represented by feminine sexuality.(3) When we consider that Hurston was far more interested in African-derived folk religions and folklore than in American Protestantism, it stands to reason that she would have been more likely to see God as a character from folktales than the primum mobile of orthodox theology. Indeed, as she herself explains in Mules and Men, within the African American folk tradition, the character of God is often identified with the slavemaster, just as the devil is often a clever trickster who triumphs over God's superior power through wit and resourcefulness.(4)

In the context of Hurston's views on religion, references to God in the storm section of Their Eyes seem more sinister. If we compare the passage where the title words appear to mentions of God and the storm that immediately precede it, we find a view of God more like the slavemaster of folklore than the benevolent deity of the Church. Tea Cake ironically remembers this insight when he ascribes god-like powers to the "bossman," but he does not realize that this is a piece of magical thinking that does him no good. Likewise, the bean pickers echo the folkloric equation God = slavemaster: "Motor looked up in his angel-looking way and said, 'Big Massa draw him chair upstairs.'" But for the humor typical of folklore, Janie, seeming to speak for the others, substitutes a religious reverence for power: "'Ole Massa is doin' His work now. Us oughta keep quiet'" (235). Here we should remember what Janie, in her religious awe, fails to recall, namely that keeping quiet, staying put, disdaining common sense, and respectfully watching the authorities are just what put her and the others needlessly at the mercy of the storm in the first place. Thus, perhaps watching God, much like watching to see what the bossman would do, may not be in the bean pickers' best interest. If God is just another version of Ole Massa, a kind of over-bossman, then a belief in his omnipotence and goodness is misplaced, a dangerous superstition.

Because they trust in technology (the dikes that eventually fail), scorn tribal lore, and believe in the wisdom and benevolence of those in power, the Americans, both black and white, appear the most deluded and mystified. For Hurston, their eyes are, and have been for too long, watching God - the mythic principle of hierarchical power - when they should have been watching the material world, and following the example of the Indians, animals, and Bahamians who are in closer touch with nature and who know when to get out. Thus, while Hubbard is correct that the phrase their eyes were watching God signifies a religious experience, it is not one that allows the folk community to transcend "hegemonic dominance," but a religious experience on the order of superstition, and one that binds the folk community even closer to the very master-slave dialectic that threatens it the most.

The significance of the title for Hurston's whole narrative may be seen when we consider it in relation to the genre shift that the title phrase in the text signals. Before the storm, Janie progresses hopefully toward the horizon. In the storm, she and the others reach their lowest point of helplessness and inertia. After the storm, Janie becomes the victim of double treachery: not only Tea Cake's rabid madness, but also the denunciations of the Everglades folk against her during the murder trial. Hurston transforms the story from quest into gothic horror to allegorize the divided consciousness of African American folk culture, and its precarious independence. To return to the disease metaphor suggested by Tea Cake's rabies, folklore is always open to infection by white thinking - or, rather, superstition. Because she sees an attachment to authority as the most dangerous American superstition, Hurston turns to a genre whose historic role has been to fight superstition and debunk authority, the gothic.

Ever since the first gothic novel, Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, was published in 1764, the genre has attacked authority, especially the institutions of Church and Aristocracy, and has shown how power is made possible by the superstitions of the powerless(5) American literature, as Leslie Fiedler has proposed, is particularly gothic, relying heavily on violence, the macabre, and the "Faustian bargain," a typical gothic situation that informs our three greatest classics, The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, and Huck Finn. For Fiedler, the gothic is so important to American literature because its deal-with-the-devil accurately portrays the central contradiction of the American project: a New Start that celebrated its own innocence while at the same time engaging in the large-scale crimes of Indian war, slavery, and exploitation of the land.

Along the same lines as Fiedler, but more to the point for Hurston, Toni Morrison, herself a writer of horror and ghost stories, considers the question of gothic literature's ascendancy in the New World and hazards an answer:

Why should a young country repelled by Europe's moral and social disorder, swooning in a fit of desire and reflection, devote its talents to reproducing in its own literature the typology of diabolism it wanted to leave behind? An answer to that seems fairly obvious: one way to benefit from the lessons of earlier mistakes and past misfortune is to record them so as to prevent their repetition through exposure and inoculation. (36)

Why indeed, we may ask along the same lines as Morrison, would Hurston devote the last quarter of Their Eyes to reproducing the horrors of cruelty, violence, and prejudice that Janie's quest had sought to leave behind? A suggestive parallel can be drawn between the "young country repelled by Europe's moral and social disorder" and the Harlem Renaissance in which Hurston wrote, a young literature of a relatively innocent culture (African America) repelled by white America's moral and social corruption.

This social corruption is figured in the text by Tea Cake's rabies, a metaphor for the infection of life-affirming black folk culture by the disease of deadly white prejudices - namely, the master-slave dialectic and the belief that racial hierarchy is justified by nature. It would follow here, then, that Christianity's belief in the omnipotence and goodness of the one true God is part and parcel of a hierarchical system that is dangerous to human freedom. As we have seen, a more liberating understanding of nature for Hurston would be the pluralism of African-based folk religions like hoodoo and voodoo, with their multiplicity of different loas, gods, and spirits, all in tune with different aspects of the natural world. The gothic is particularly useful for Hurston, since it allows her to turn the tables on commonly held assumptions about religion. In her work on folk religion, Hurston attempts to demonstrate that hoodoo and voodoo, reputed to be dark cults of devil worship, zombies, and curses, are actually vital and nurturing practices in touch with nature. By contrast, in Their Eyes, she seems to imply that Western, enlightened thought is the truly diabolic cult of mind control. Might not the real zombies, then, be those whose eyes are watching the bossman in whatever form he is presented, whether as the omnipotent God, as money, or as the white bossman himself?

I would conclude that Hurston uses the gothic to inoculate black America against the infection of white prejudices just as Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain used horror to inoculate a young America against the infection of European evils. White America had its chance to make a "fresh start," to avoid the Old World ills of hierarchy and domination, but, for Hurston no less than for Wright, history has shown that it failed. Hurston seems to hope that African American culture will have a better chance to achieve something truly new, a society that is egalitarian not only in word, but in deed. What she fears the most is that black America will simply develop along the same lines as the rest of the nation, creating a society with its own prejudices, snobberies, and self-destructive myths of power fit only for the Nannys, Mrs. Turners, and Joe Starkses. The only way Hurston sees to prevent this is to challenge African American culture to closely examine its own commitment to creating a truly different community, not one that simply talks folklore, but one that lives its democratic impulse. In this task, the old Cold War maxim - that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom - would be the best guide to defending against a stealth infection of the master-slave dialectic. Thus, though Their Eyes may not be the novel of "uplift" that the first part of Janie's quest implies, the book remains an affirmation of folklore, but a kind of folklore that sees its autonomy realistically and can avoid repeating the mistakes of white America.


1. The Hurston-Wright debate is found in critical statements by the two authors and, specifically, in published reviews of each other's work: See Wright's "Between Laughter and Tears" and Hurston's review of Uncle Tom's Children. Critics who have dealt with this debate include Jordan; Hemenway 241-42, 333-35; Gates 180-92; and Awkward 7-12.

2. Their Eyes Were Watching God has traditionally been read as an "affirmative" expression of the value of rural black folk life in the South, feminine self-discovery, and romantic love between equals, missing the horror that invades the end of the novel. Notable among the many articles praising the novel as expressing "racial health" and promoting folk culture and feminism are Walker, Howard, Wainwright, and Pondrom.

3. As Hemenway explains, "By stressing its religious nature, Tell My Horse dignifies voodoo worship, removing it from the lurid and sensational associations held by the popular mind. Voodoo's sexual content becomes a dignified component of a complex belief on the same order as the Virgin Birth" when the voodoo houngan describes the ceremony where the priestess reveals her vagina as the source of all life and the ultimate mystery (249-50).

4. In the glossary at the end of Mules and Men, Gates explains that "the devil is not the terror that he is in European folk-lore. He is a powerful trickster who often competes successfully with God. There is a strong suspicion that the devil is an extension of the story-makers while God is the supposedly impregnable white masters, who are nevertheless defeated by the Negroes" (248).

5. For a discussion of the aims of the Anglo-American gothic, see Punter. For theories of the American Gothic, see Fiedler, Gross, and Ringe. Frank gives an index of Gothic devices in the hundreds of American Gothic works he lists.

Works Cited

Awkward, Michael. "Introduction." New Essays on Their Eyes Were Watching God. Ed. Awkward. New York: Cambridge UP, 1990. 1-27.

Crabtree, Claire. "The Confluence of Folklore, Feminism and Black Self-Determination in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God." Southern Literary Journal 17,2 (1985): 54-66.

Fiedler, Leslie. Love and Death in the American Novel. New York: Criterion, 1960.

Frank, Frederick S. Through the Pale Door: A Guide to and Through the American Gothic. Bibliographies and Indexes in American Literature 11. New York: Greenwood, 1990.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism. New York: Oxford UP, 1988.

Gross, Louis. Redefining the American Gothic: From Wieland to The Day of the Dead. Ann Arbor: UMI Research P, 1989.

Hemenway, Robert E. Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography. Urbane: U of Illinois P, 1977.

Howard, Lillie P. Zora Neale Hurston. Boston: Twayne, 1980.

Hubbard, Dolan. "'. . . Ah said Ah'd save de text for you': Recontextualizing the Sermon to Tell (Her)story in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God." African American Review 27 (1993): 167-78.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Dust Tracks on a Road. Ed. Robert E. Hemenway. 2nd ed. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1984.

-----. Mules and Men. 1935. New York: Harper, 1990.

-----. Rev. of Uncle Tom's Children, by Richard Wright. 1938. Rpt. Richard Wright: Critical Perspectives Past and Present. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Kwame Anthony Appiah. New York: Amistad, 1993. 3-4.

-----. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1978.

-----. "What White Publishers Won't Print." 1950. I Love Myself When I am Laughing . . . And Then Again When I am Looking Mean and Impressive: A Zora Neale Hurston Reader. Ed. Alice Walker. New York: Feminist P, 1979. 169-73.

Jordan, June. "Notes Toward a Balancing of Love and Hatred: On Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston." Black World 23 (Aug. 1974): 4-8.

Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1992.

Pondrom, Cyrena N. "The Role of Myth in Their Eyes Were Watching God." American Literature 58 (1986): 181-202.

Punter, David. The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1765 to the Present Day. New York: Longman, 1980.

Ringe, Donald. American Gothic. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1982.

Wainwright, Mary. "The Aesthetics of Community: The Insular Black Community as Theme and Focus in Their Eyes Were Watching God." The Harlem Renaissance: Revaluations. Ed. Amritjit Singh, William S. Shiver, and Stanley Brodwin. New York: Garland, 1989. 233-43.

Walker, Alice. "Foreword." Hemenway xi-xxiii.

Wright, Richard. "Between Laughter and Tears." New Masses 5 Oct. 1937: 23-25.

Erik D. Curren is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of California, Irvine, where he is completing a dissertation on the modern American Gothic, with discussions of the gothic in Southern, African American, and Los Angeles fiction. He has published on Ishmael Reed and delivered conference papers on Zora Neale Hurston and on the African American Gothic of Hurston and Richard Wright.
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Title Annotation:Zora Neale Hurston
Author:Curren, Erik D.
Publication:African American Review
Date:Mar 22, 1995
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