When it was published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God was not popular, as it has so become today. Although Hurston's white audience was not so harsh and fault-finding, the black readers felt that Hurston portrayed the way they were treated by the whites too positively. Instead of showing the way the black people had been disheartened, destroyed, and mistreated, she illustrated them rejoicing in life with their singing and dancing. A review written by Sterling A. Brown in "Luck is a Fortune" states that Hurston "does not dwell upon the "people ugly from ignorance and broken from being poor" who swarm upon the "muck" for short time jobs (409-10)." Richard Wright, one of the most well-known black writers of the late thirties, believed Their Eyes Were Watching God portrayed black people and the lives they lived as being appealing and charming, and in doing so demoralized her own race. Today, the novel is acclaimed for its positive views. It is considered the ideal Black novel for those who need to see a black life free from the limitations inevitably put on by the cruel treatment they received from others. The novel shows what life could be like if everyone could get away from the hateful backgrounds we've all been affected by.
Even though Hurston's novel was published after the Harlem Renaissance, the period from the end of World War 1 to the end of the Depression, it is still associated with the era. Some of the common topics for writing during the Harlem Renaissance included disaffection, peculiarity, " the use of folk material and the use of the blues tradition (Verma)." The Harlem Renaissance was a time of advancement in every subject of art, from literature to drama, painting, and jazz. Hurston's novel extended way beyond the Renaissance's themes and political agenda, and was therefore not generally accepted. Her novel didn't tie in with enough of its topics. .