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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Zora Neale Hurston
Quotes

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 5

The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.

This quotation from Chapter 18 neatly summarizes the central conflict of the novel, as Janie, Tea Cake, and Motor Boat seek refuge from the raging hurricane outside. The struggle at the heart of the novel is set forth in the starkest terms: humans against God, Janie and the others against nature. It is significant that Motor Boat joins Janie and Tea Cake in their house and that the narrator notes that everybody is united in the same struggle. We see here that the bonds of human interaction and intimacy provide refuge against the forces of nature. Tea Cake and Janie share an intimacy that allows them to struggle and survive these forces. The sense of self that Janie gains from the love that she shares with Tea Cake enables her subsequently to endure another hostile force—the mean-spirited scorn of the black women of Eatonville—and maintain her inner peace.