Their Eyes Were Watching God

why did Hurston's contemporaries criticized this novel? who were they?

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Many of Hurston's African American writing peers felt the novel painted black Americans as stereotypes. Authors like Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison felt the novel was "backwards" and "Uncle-Tommish". They felt she used Ebonics to perpetuate cultural stereotypes. They also felt that she painted too rosy a picture of black life in the South, betraying blacks by not portraying the ill-treatment and demoralization that they had suffered. In fact, one of the most prominent black writers and intellectuals of the late thirties, Richard Wright, said that Their Eyes was themeless and meaningless; he thought that by portraying her people as quaint, Hurston had exploited them.