Their Eyes Were Watching God

by: Zora Neale Hurston

Chapter 19

1

Tea Cake found that he was part of small army that had been pressed into service to clear the wreckage in public places and bury the dead. Bodies had to be searched out, carried to certain gathering places and buried. Corpses were not just found in wrecked houses. They were under houses, tangled in shrubbery, floating in water, hanging in trees, drifting under wreckage.

2

About the middle of the fourth week Tea Cake came home early one afternoon complaining of his head. Sick headache that made him lie down for a while. He woke up hungry. Janie had his supper ready but by the time he walked from the bedroom to the table, he said he didn’t b’lieve he wanted a thing.

3

Well, she thought, that big old dawg with the hatred in his eyes had killed her after all. She wished she had slipped off that cow-tail and drowned then and there and been done. But to kill her through Tea Cake was too much to bear.

4

The gun came up unsteadily but quickly and leveled at Janie’s breast. She noted that even in his delirium he took good aim. Maybe he would point to scare her, that was all. The pistol snapped once. Instinctively Janie’s hand flew behind her on the rifle and brought it round. Most likely this would scare him off. If only the doctor would come! If anybody at all would come! She broke the rifle deftly and shoved in the shell as the second click told her that Tea Cake’s suffering brain was urging him on to kill.

5

She tried to make them see how terrible it was that things were fixed so that Tea Cake couldn’t come back to himself until he had got rid of the mad dog that was in him and he couldn’t get rid of the dog and live. He had to die to get rid of the dog. But she hadn’t wanted to kill him…. She made them see how she couldn’t ever want to be rid of him.