Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[Tea Cake]: "Ah got money on me, Janie. Dey can’t bother me." (19.14)
Tea Cake makes the false assumption that having money in his pocket will earn other men’s respect and keep them from "bother[in]" him. He’s wrong.
Tea Cake hung back defensively. "Whut Ah got tuh do wid dat [burying bodies]? Ah’m uh workin’ man wid money in mah pocket. Jus’ got blowed outa de ‘Glades by de storm."
The short [white] man made a quick move with his rifle. "Git on down de road dere, suh! Don’t look out somebody’ll be buryin’ you! G’wan in front uh me, suh!" (19.20-21)
Tea Cake’s assumption that money will keep him safe proves to be wrong; to the white men, his black skin overrides any money or class he might have. To them, he is essentially a slave.
[Janie]: "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." (19.102-103)
Janie is desperately trying to use all her resources to save Tea Cake. She hopes that her wealth will gain her access to special medication, but she is deluded. No amount of money will save Tea Cake now, the doctor implies. Wealth and class do not always get a person what she wants.