What was the role of the hurricane in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was set in Eatonville, Florida, an independent black town in Florida, where black people were politicians, teachers, and businesspeople rather than slaves. 

Before the hurricane and after the death of her husband, the protagonist of the novel, Janie Crawford Killicks Starks Woods, has been widowed by the death of her husband Jody Starks, and moved to the Everglades with her new husband Vergible "Tea Cake" Woods. Rather than evacuating, Tea Cake and Janie stay in their cabin in the Everglades during the hurricane. As the wind builds up and the rain intensifies, they sit in the cabin and are described as appearing "to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God." The hurricane signifies how fate or external forces beyond our control act upon human lives, but also shows the independence and strength of Tea Cake and Janie.

When the house is flooded and they are forced to evacuate, they walk towards Palm Beach. Janie is attacked by a rabid dog and Tea Cake gets bitten attempting to save her. Tea Cup dies of rabies from the bite.


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