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)
[Doctor]: "He’s got almost no chance to pull through and he’s liable to bite somebody else, specially you, and then you’ll be in the same fix he’s in. It’s mighty bad."
"Can’t nothin’ be done fuh his case, doctah? Us got plenty money in de bank in Orlandah, doctah. See can’t yuh do somethin’ special tuh save him. Anything it cost, doctah, Ah don’t keer, but please, doctah."
"Do what I can. Ah’ll phone into Palm Beach right away for the serum which he should have had three weeks ago. I’ll do all I can to save him, Janie. But it looks too late." (19.101-103)
Appropriately, money cannot save Tea Cake’s life. There is, in fact, nothing that Janie or Tea Cake or anyone can do to keep Tea Cake alive. In this case free will can’t stand up against death.
Did He [God] mean to do this thing to Tea Cake and her? It wasn’t anything she could fight. She could only ache and wait. Maybe it was some big tease and when He saw it had gone far enough He’d give her a sign. She looked hard for something up there to move for a sign. A star in the daytime, maybe, or the sun to shout, or even a mutter of thunder. Her arms went up in a desperate supplication for a minute. It wasn’t exactly pleading, it was asking questions. The sky stayed hard looking and quiet so she went inside the house. God would do less than He had in His heart. (19.104)
Janie watches the heavens, asking for a reason to believe, to have faith in God again. Janie herself says that free will can’t halt Tea Cake’s death, his illness isn’t "anything she could fight." However, she tries to exercise her will by praying to God. But God seems merciless and Janie must steel herself for Tea Cake’s impending death. It is too late for prayer.
[Janie to Tea Cake]: "Ah jus’ know dat God snatched me out de fire through you. And Ah loves yuh and feel glad." (19.126)
Despite Tea Cake’s impending death, Janie reiterates her satisfaction with God. It wasn’t Janie or Tea Cake that saved her, but God acting through Tea Cake.