How does the quote by Tea Cake in Chapter 11, "You got de keys to do kingdom," create an allusion to another kingdom?

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howesk's profile pic

howesk | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Generally "kingdom" can refer to both earthly kingdoms and the kingdom of heaven/God. I think this is the case in Their Eyes Were Watching God as well, and Tea Cake is telling Janie that she is a good person. Also, an illusion is a magic trick. An allusion is when there is a reference to history or culture within a work of literature.


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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

You clearly meant "allusion," so I've made that change in your question.

The first possibility that comes to mind is an allusion to the heavenly kingdom. "The keys to the kingdom" is part of a bible verse; Jesus says that he will give these to Peter (Matthew 16:17-20). This bible passage is common in African American folklore, such as the tale of the "flyin' fool" in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. It seems to me very likely that Hurston is recording a phrase that she's heard other black people use.

Another possibility, of course, is a reference to Tea Cake's heart. That's not so much an allusion as a metaphor, though. An allusion is a clear reference to something, such a work of literature (the bible counts, of course, as a work of literature). A metaphor is less specific in what it refers to.

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