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The novel "Their eyes were watching God" was written by an African-American woman known as Zora Neale Hurston and was released in the year 1937. It was set in central and southern Florida and was rated amongst the TIME 100 best English-Language novels. In 2005 a television movie was under the same title was produced. It was directed by Darnell Martin and produced by Harpo Productions. A couple of differences can be noted between the novel and the movie and therefore, on this paper these are some of the things I am going to discuss.
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The novel has four main characters namely; Janie Crawford, Tea Cake, Joe Starks, and Phoebe Watson. The story is centered more around Janie Crawford who comes to a point of self awareness and lives her life according to her own purpose and desires (God Bloom, 2009). We are also introduced to Tea Cake who happens to be Janie's third husband who came from a background of no family and no much history. Something that makes him standout so much in the novel is the fact that he married Janie who was about fifteen years older than him (God Bloom, 2009).
Janie's second husband went by the name of Joe Starks. He comes out as a very hard working man who is very popular in the whole town. Phoebe Watson in the book is described as Janie's only visible friend in the whole town of Eatonville. She comes out as the listener to Janie's life story. Just like her friend she is a middle aged woman who unlike most people respects Janie a lot (God Bloom, 2009).
On the other hand, the minor characters in the novel are Nanny who Janie's grandmother and a former slave, Logan Kellicks, and last but not least there is Hezekiah. Nanny is a works for a white family and she is the one who raises Janie. She comes out as a successful mother to Janie and also a hardworking woman who achieves a lot (God Bloom, 2009).
Logan Kellicks is Janie's first husband. He is an older man and a property owner. Nanny considers him a very dependable man who is a hard working farmer.
In the book, Janie narrates to Phoebe her entire life story in on order to be able to make her understand the full impact of her mindset. This is after she had disappeared with Tea cake several years back and had come back to Eatonville (God Bloom, 2009).
The major theme of the novel all about how a woman struggles to find contentment within herself in a world that really does not understand her struggles. The story also exposes us to race relations and how color affected lives of the people of Eatonville in the early twentieth century. Even though the black community in the town is faced with a lot of hardships, their eyes are watching (God Bloom, 2009).
The novel's structure is quite simple and easy to follow and understand. The narrative as found in the first and last chapters basically introduces and closes the story of Janie's life. There after it leaves room for the readers to imagine that Janie's life could possible take a variety of directions and experiences.
Janie's problems concerning her search and desire for self establishment in a way that she clearly understands and can relate to are solved towards the end of the book. She manages to provide life lessons and counseling to her friend Phoebe that can enable her to make right decisions concerning a woman's place in the society.
Looking at the movie, it based on the same novel even though a little modification has been incorporated that makes the movie a little different from the novel. In the movie, there are ten characters unlike the novel that had only seven characters. The characters are Janie Crawford, Tea Cake, Joe Starks, phoebe Watson, Pearl Stone, Nanny, Amos Hicks, Sam Watson, Motor Boat, and last but not least Johnny Taylor (Bowers, 2006).
The movie portrays Janie's first husband as an unsexy and poor man, the second is what can be described as self important man that is quite popular in the town, and finally the third husband is an irresponsible man who has a drinking and gambling problem (Bowers, 2006).
In the midst of all this marital challenges, Janie still manages to triumph, with an upper hand acquiring money, wisdom and position from each of the husbands. The movie starts where Janie comes back to her home town Eatonville after running away with the young husband tea cake. The movie depicts the Eatonville as the very first incorporated colored town in the whole of America (Bowers, 2006).
Janie's return gets people talking questioning whether she is good enough to be a mayor's wife. They question her reasons for running away with the irresponsible young boy that they refer to harshly as a scamp (Bowers, 2006).
Janie immediately after arriving gets to her friend Lorraine Toussaint and narrates to her a whole story. From here the film is now in form of flashbacks giving a pictorial view of Janie's real story as she narrates it to her friend.
The story line in the movie lacks action and is dull quite a number of times unlike the novel when you read it. The movie has centered so much on Janie and does not properly cover the other main stars. It is one of those movies that appear too gauzy and predictable. The book on the other hand clearly brings out its theme that is based on self fulfillment as symbolized Janie's life.