Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Mortality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Janie starched and ironed her face and came set in the funeral behind her veil. It was like a wall of stone and steel. The funeral was going on outside. All things concerning death and burial were said and done. Finish. End. Nevermore. Darkness. Deep hole. Dissolution. Eternity. Weeping and wailing outside. Inside the expensive black folds were resurrection and life. She did not reach outside for anything, nor did the things of death reach inside to disturb her calm. She sent her face to Joe’s funeral and herself went rollicking with the springtime across the world. (9.2)
Everything associated with death is about emptiness and ending, sadness, and sobbing. Janie, however, inside her fancy veils of mourning black, is anything but mournful; she hides her joy at her sudden freedom from Joe under her "expensive black folds." Inside, she is experiencing "resurrection and life" from the ashes of her formerly dead self, the part that Joe killed. Joe’s death brings a new beginning for Janie.
[Tea Cake]: "But ‘sposing you wuz tuh die now. You wouldn’t git mad at me for draggin’ yuh heah?"
"Naw, We been tuhgether round two years. If you kin see de light at daybreak, you don’t keer if you die at dusk. It’s so many people never seen de light at all. Ah wuz fumblin’ round and God opened de door." (18.36-37)
In her reassuring response to Tea Cake, Janie likens life to a day – referring to traditional light imagery of dawn representing hope while dusk and the coming of darkness symbolizes despair. She calls Tea Cake her "light at daybreak" and considers her life full enough so that she can "die at dusk" peacefully.
As soon as Tea Cake went out pushing wind in front of him, he saw that the wind and water had given life to lots of things that folks think of as dead and given death to so much that had been living things. (18.40)
The God-sent storm is of such a magnitude that it seems to turn the world upside-down, enlivening dead things and killing the living. This perhaps foreshadows the death of Tea Cake, an entity that has lived his life so joyously.