Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 20 Quotes
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Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Tea Cake, with the sun for a shawl. Of course he wasn’t dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. (20.12)
Janie comes to an understanding of death that is not one of utter emptiness and sorrow, but – as her life has shown her – a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Tea Cake will always be alive for her as long as she can resurrect him with her fond memories and love. Janie, then, learns that love transcends even death.
The day of the gun, and the bloody body, and the courthouse came and commenced to sing a sobbing sigh out of every corner in the room; out of each and every chair and thing. Commenced to sing, commenced to sob to sigh, singing and sobbing. Then Tea Cake came prancing around her where she was and the song of the sigh flew out of the window and lit in the top of the pine trees. Tea Cake, with the sun for a shawl. Of course he wasn’t dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. (20.12)
Janie makes the final association between her memories and her future dreams. Although she cherishes the past, she does not see the future now as a bleak place lacking Tea Cake. Rather, Janie’s envisions her future as a time to cherish her memories of Tea Cake and wait for the time that she can join him in heaven.
[Janie]: "Ah done been tuh de horizon and back and now Ah kin set heah in mah house and live by comparisons. Dis house ain’t so absent of things lak it used tuh be befo’ Tea Cake come along. It’s full uh thoughts, ‘specially dat bedroom." (20.6)
Now that Janie has lived her life to the fullest, she can look back and indulge in memories. She can now "live by comparisons," comparing her marriages to one another and appreciating little things like the bedroom of her Eatonville house now that it is rife with memories of Tea Cake, and even Joe. Now that Janie’s dreams have been fulfilled, she can recall that happiness at will and be grateful for it because she has lived in darker, less blessed times.