Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Janie Starks, the central character in this beautiful, early-twentieth-century novel, was trapped in a deeply racist, pre-civil-rights South. She was born into a family that came apart at the seams. She was raised by an abusive grandmother and “whipped like a cur dog and run off down a back road after things.” One day Janie realized something or someone “called her to come and gaze on a mystery.” This “stirred her tremendously. . . . She had been summoned to behold a revelation.” That revelation was basically this: She found a jewel down inside herself and she wanted to walk where people could see her and gleam it around. . . . Janie had tried to show her shine.”