CliffsNotes Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Megan E. Ash | Go to book overview

Chapter 18

Summary

Late summer is hurricane season in the Everglades. Without taking the omens of the inevitable storm seriously, Tea Cake and Janie watch small groups of Seminoles leaving, heading toward Palm Beach Road and forsaking the money-making muck in order to survive the ominous, still invisible hurricane.

The fury does not wait long. In a sudden burst of thunder and lightning, the storm hits—and the world of Janie, Tea Cake, and the migrants is destroyed. As the people cluster together in fear of the elements, their eyes are not watching each other or the storm. In silent prayer, they are watching God. They make an effort to go to higher ground, but they are nearly swept away by the tremendous surge of water when the lake breaks through the dikes and surges toward them in a tall wall of rushing water. Tea Cake makes a valiant effort to keep Janie afloat by urging her to hang onto the tail of a cow. As the two struggle to survive the raging current, a rabid dog that is clinging to the cow bites Tea Cake on the cheek.


Commentary

The departure of the Seminoles from the muck foreshadows the arrival of the destructive hurricane. The migrant workers on the muck believe the Indians are wrong about the imminent storm, as fair weather continues, the beans are growing well, and prices are still fair. After the exit of the Seminoles, even the animals also head east, seemingly aware of the approaching hurricane. Still, though, Tea Cake, Janie, and most of the other migrant workers remain in the muck, unprepared for the threatening storm. “Money’s too good on the muck” for Tea Cake to leave. Soon, these people will experience the destruction and terror associated with enduring a hurricane.

Hurston personifies the sea by comparing it to a monster that “began to roll in his bed.” As the sea breaks through the dikes, Hurston reveals

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CliffsNotes Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents iii
  • How to Use This Book vi
  • Life and Background of the Author 1
  • Introduction to the Novel 11
  • Critical Commentaries 19
  • Chapter 1 20
  • Chapter 2 24
  • Chapter 3 27
  • Chapter 4 29
  • Chapter 5 32
  • Chapter 6 36
  • Chapter 7 41
  • Chapter 8 43
  • Chapter 9 46
  • Chapter 10 48
  • Chapter 11 50
  • Chapter 12 52
  • Chapter 13 54
  • Chapter 14 57
  • Chapter 15 59
  • Chapter 16 60
  • Chapter 17 62
  • Chapter 18 64
  • Chapter 19 66
  • Chapter 20 69
  • Character Analyses 71
  • Critical Essays 81
  • CliffsNotes Review 89
  • CliffsNotes Resource Center 93
  • Index 95
  • Notes 101
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