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Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

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In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie watches a band of people leave the Muck.  Who are they?

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In Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie and Tea Cake spend a great deal of their life together in the Florida Everglades, or "the Muck." Here they work together, build friendships with those around them (including some Bahaman workers that share a new culture), and have what is perhaps the best life they ever know with one another. However, the Muck is also the place where their life together begins to come apart. 

In Chapter 18, Hurston describes the life that Janie and Tea Cake built in the Muck. They play games and hold dances regularly, enjoying nearly every moment of the time. However, one afternoon a band of Seminoles passes by.  Hurston writes,

The men walking in front and the laden, stolid women following them like burros. She had seen Indians several times in the 'Glades, in twos or threes, but this was a large party. They were headed toward the Palm Beach road and kept moving steadily. About an hour later another party appeared and went the same way. Then another just before sundown.

Janie asks one of the men where they are going. He says they are headed to high ground because a hurricane is coming. This becomes the major conversation of the evening, and continues the next day as more Native Americans travel past, but nobody gets alarmed. Work is good and the evening fun is better, so the characters stay put. The next day, animals such as rabbits, snakes, and even deer start to travel past, and "[a] thousand buzzards held a flying meet and then went above the clouds and stayed," suggesting that the scavengers are going to wait out the storm and then pick over the remains. Finally, some of the Bahaman workers begin to get concerned and head toward higher ground, but Janie, Tea Cake, and a number of other people stay, planning to ride out the storm. This decision sets in motion the major tragedy for Janie and Tea Cake, when Lake Okechobee overflows and floods the Muck and the two are forced to try to escape. 

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