Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
It was next day by the sun and the clock when they reached Palm Beach. It was years later by their bodies. Winters and winters of hardship and suffering. The wheel kept turning round and round. Hope, hopelessness and despair. (18.98)
The endlessly turning wheel of fate brings "hope, hopelessness and despair" in its respective rounds; Tea Cake and Janie are just unlucky to experience the "despair" phase of it when death visits mankind in devastating enormity.
Finally he [Tea Cake] dipped a drink. It was so good and cool! Come to think about it, he hadn’t had a drink since yesterday. That was what he needed to give him an appetite for his beans. He found himself wanting it very much, so he threw back his head as he rushed the glass to his lips. But the demon was there before him, strangling, killing him quickly. It was a great relief to expel the water from his mouth. He sprawled on the bed again and lay there shivering until Janie and the doctor arrived. (19.78)
Tea Cake refers to his disease as a "demon," giving it a supernatural aspect, as if God is hounding Tea Cake to death, punishing him for ignoring all the warnings of the coming hurricane earlier. It seems as if Fate has it in his cards that Tea Cake must die for his transgression.
[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.