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Their Eyes Were Watching God is a semi-autobiographical and historical novel by Zora Neale Hurston.
Set in the unrest of the early 20th century, the novel deals with race relations and Hurston's own struggles with community, love, and finding purpose in the world. As Chapter 18 begins, Hurston's surrogate Janie Turner and her husband Tea Cake have settled down in the Florida Everglades, where they have built a sense of belonging with the locals. For the first time in her life, Janie has friends and people who do not judge her, but instead welcome her as a part of their racially diverse community. Despite this, they disregard a passing band of Seminole Indians, who warn of an immense hurricane on the way. However, Janie, Tea Cake, and their community believe that nothing bad can be on the way, as their lives seem full and happy.
The hurricane strikes, and through several hours of terror and pain, Janie and Tea Cake survive their house being flooded, the loss of their friends, the utter destruction of the town and surrounding everglades, and finally -- almost amusingly considering their predicament -- a dog attack. Surviving, Janie reaffirms her love for Tea Cake and her will to live:
"Once upon uh time, Ah never 'spected nothin', Tea Cake,
but bein' dead from the standin' still and tryin' tuh laugh. But
you come 'long and made somethin' outa me. So Ah'm thankful
fuh anything we come through together."
(Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Google Books)
The theme in this chapter is willpower, as Janie and Tea Cake support each other to survive the hurricane. Although they have lost much, they know that life means hope, and the ability to rebuild.
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