Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 18 Quotes
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Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
It woke up old Okechobee and the monster began to rollin his bed. Began to roll and complain like a peevish world on a grumble. The folks in the quarters and the people in the big houses further around the shore heard the big lake and wondered. The people felt uncomfortable but safe because there were the seawalls to chain the senseless monster in his bed. The folks let the people do the thinking. If the castles thought themselves secure, the cabins needn’t worry. Their decision was already made as always. Chink up your cracks, shiver in your wet beds and wait on the mercy on Lord. The bossman might have the thing stopped before morning anyway. (18.27)
The black folks of the Everglades, including Tea Cake and Janie, trust passively to the judgment of the white people – whom they think know better than them. Because the white men causally and arrogantly choose to stay, disregarding all of mother nature’s warnings, the black workers stay as well. They all suffer the consequences when the hurricane shows up howling on their doorstep.
Everybody was talking about it [the coming hurricane] that night. But nobody was worried. The fire dance kept up till nearly dawn. The next day, more Indians moved east, unhurried but steady. Still a blue sky and fair weather. Beans running fine and prices good, so the Indians could be, must be, wrong. You couldn’t have a hurricane when you’re making seven and eight dollars a day picking beans. Indians are dumb anyhow, always were. (18.4)
Here, the black workers in the Everglades show the same racism towards Native Americans as they themselves are treated with by white people. Racial hierarchy permeates the book and colors the way characters see each other’s value and intelligence. Here, all Native Americans as a whole are considered "dumb" even though they’re really in the right about the hurricane.
Some rabbits scurried through the quarters going east. Some possums slunk by and their route was definite. One or two at a time, then more. By the time the people left the fields the procession was constant. Snakes, rattlesnakes began to cross the quarters. The men killed a few, but they could not be missed from the crawling horde. People stayed indoors until daylight. Several times during the night Janie heard the snort of big animals like deer. Once the muted voice of a panther. Going east and east. That night the palm and banana trees began that long distance talk with rain. Several people took fright and picked up and went in to Palm Beach anyway. A thousand buzzards held a flying meet and then went above the clouds and stayed. (18.6)
The children of mother nature know what fate has in store for them and they are not sticking around to meet it. Because the invincible forces of mother nature are so wholly devastating and cannot be prevented, they are often linked to the forces of fate. Thus, it makes sense that the animals would have instincts warning them of the coming storm.