Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 19 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Aw you know dem white mens wuzn’t gointuh do nothin’ tuh no woman dat look lak her." (19.178)
The words "lak her" imply something akin to "so beautiful!" The accompanying implication is more serious, suggesting that white men base their judgments partially on the defendant’s looks and allow their libidos to influence their verdicts. The insinuation is that beautiful women are let off more easily in court than other people.
And then again Him-with-the-square-toes [Death] had gone back to his house. He stood once more and again in his high flat house without sides to it and without a roof with his soulless sword standing upright in his hand. His pale white horse had galloped over waters and thundered over land. (19.1)
The allusion to the pale white horse is a Biblical allusion to the Pale Horseman of the Apocalypse – the rider who represents Death, bringing it through war, famine, and plague. The fact that Death’s sword is "soulless" is appropriate for he also represents Hell, a place of eternal torment for those who abused their souls in their lifetimes.
Tea Cake found that he was part of a small army that had been pressed into service to clear the wreckage in public places and bury the dead. Bodies had to be searched out, carried to certain gathering places and buried. Corpses were not just found in wrecked homes. They were under houses, tangled in shrubbery, floating in water, hanging in trees, drifting under wreckage.
Trucks lined with drag kept rolling in from the ‘Glades and other outlying parts, each with its load of twenty-five bodies. Some bodies fully dressed, some naked and some in all degrees of dishevelment. Some bodies with calm faces and satisfied hands. Some dead with fighting faces and eyes flung wide open in wonder. Death had found them watching, trying to see beyond seeing. (19.22-23)
Tea Cake’s involvement with the mass burial effort is not just a job, but a survey of people in their final moments. They are found in every type of place, in every condition, and with every imaginable expression on their faces. But Tea Cake is struck by those that seem to accept death peacefully, and those others who fight death to the very end – fearing it and all the terrifying possibilities that it might bring.