Their Eyes Were Watching God
Chapters 15-20
Questions for journal writing, in-class discussion, or small group analysis

Chapter 15

1. How do you view Tea Cake’s behavior in this chapter? What is your opinion of his interactions with Nunkie, of Janie’s reactions, and of Tea Cake’s resolutions?

2. Can the things that happen between Janie and Tea Cake in this chapter possibly reinforce positive aspects of their relationship?

Chapter 16

1. What is the difference between “white” and “black” perceptions of God as they are presented in this chapter?

2. Why do you think Zora Neale Hurston has Janie defend her commitment to Tea Cake and to life on the Muck to another black person instead of to a white person?

Chapter 17

1. What is Janie’s role in this chapter? How does the situation that has evolved with Mrs. Turner and the blacks on the muck played either to her advantage or disadvantage?

2. What is the significance of the name “Turner”? What are the characteristics of this family that play into the significance of the name?

Chapter 18

1. What is significant about the way Tea Cake rejects the wisdom of the Indians to leave the Muck ahead of the storm? [“Indians don’t know much uh nothin’, tuh tell de truth. Else dey’d own ‘dis country still. De white folks ain’t gone nowhere.”] What does this show you about how he has changed?

2. How does the comparison between Tea Cake and Big John de Conquer foreshadow Tea Cake’s death?

3. How do Tea Cake, Janie, and the others regard God (“Big Massa,” “Ole Massa”) in this chapter? If God were a person, what would he look like, to them? Draw on the important quotations in the chapter, such as “Six eyes were questioning God” and “They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.”

Chapter 19

1. There are only a few instances in this book where whites and blacks interact. This chapter contains two of them. What do the burials of the dead from the hurricane and the trial for Janie’s indictment of murdering Tea Cake tell us about racial prejudice? Do whites treat blacks similarly in the two situations? Differently?

2. How have Janie’s overalls come to be a symbol of her identity? What do you think they represent to her?

Chapter 20

1. Janie comes home to Eatonville with a clear philosophy about life. Sitting on her back porch, she tells Pheoby, “… you got tuh go there to know there…Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.” What is the “there” Janie is referring to? What do these sentences mean to Janie? What do they mean to you?

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