Readings required for English classes tend to be dull. Most of the books I have read in this setting have been dry but manageable. One specific book stands out above the rest. Their Eyes Were Watching God has burrowed its way into the special place in my heart for pure, unadulterated hatred.

The plot follows the life of Janie Crawford, the granddaughter of a former slave, from her initial discovery of her sexuality through her marriages with three different men. As the center of the novel, Janie is the cause of all my hate.

The following open letter to Janie Crawford may contain spoilers, although the book is not worth reading anyway.


I hate you, Janie Crawford. Or are you Janie Killicks? Or are you Janie Starks? Or are you Janie… Cake? Whoever you are, I don’t like you.

You start off the story with your grandmother, who wants to see you not become a “mule” to a man. Well… you become a mule to three men.

You were Janie Killicks. You were a maid for your husband. Your blossoming pear tree was pruned. So what did you do Janie? You ran away. And what did you teach us? When you have a problem, you should run away with a man you’ve only just met.

You were Janie Starks. You were the mayor’s wife in Eatonville. Eaton, too were the fruit of your pear tree. You were excited when your husband died. Then what did you do Janie? You ran away. And what did you teach us? You should run away with a man you’ve only just met. Again. Oh, but this time he played the guitar.

You were Janie… Cake. You and Tea Cake went down to the Everglades for a good time, but then came the hurricane. And what did you do, Janie? You ran away. Oh lawd, this is getting old.

You ran, and your running finally bit you in the butt. Or, rather, the dog bit Tea Cake. What did you do then? You stayed with him. You stayed with him until the day he died. Until the day you shot him.

You stayed for the trial. I thought you had changed. Then what did you do Janie? You ran away.

That’s all you do, Janie. That’s all you are.



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     © Chris Hinstorff 2016