“Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.” — from Their Eyes Were Watching God, Chapter. 20
Having completed our reading of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, we are each in the process of developing a meaningful thesis for a genre project of choice on or inspired by the novel. While developing a thesis, we discussed how phrasing our topic in a statement vs. a question can alter the content, meaning, and even the task! For example:
Thesis Statement: Pheoby plays the role of a listener in Their Eyes Were Watching God and is similar to us as readers.
Thesis Question: Does Pheoby play the role of a listener in Their Eyes Were Watching God and is she similar to us as readers?
Our discussions yielded that the statement is absolute. It requires proof (maybe beyond a shadow of a doubt!). It is entirely up to the writer or artist to convince the reader/viewer that the evidence is infallible. The question, on the other hand, invites the reader/viewer along on a journey with the creator. There’s more room for discussion and the introduction of new or different ideas. We practiced our thesis ideas as both statements and questions and then decided which version served our needs and would elicit what we wanted from our audiences. Topics currently range from research papers on the Palm Beach Hurricane of 1928 and flooding of Lake Okeechobee to Blues compositions exploring the emotional complexity of the characters through music. Presentations and performances will happen the week of December 19th.
An essay in the brainstorming stage . . .
A card game taking shape . . .
As we let this novel resonate, we can’t ignore the concept that nothing replaces our own experiences, good or bad. A parent, teacher, friend can all tell us and warn us and help us make choices. But in the end, we have to see, learn, triumph, and sometimes heal from our own decisions. And move on.
“Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.”
— from Their Eyes Were Watching God