The 1937 novel, "Their Eyes Were Watching God" was written by Zora Neale Hurston. A well-known quote is: "They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God." This line is from Chapter 18 and it summarizes the central conflict of the novel.

Janie, Tea Cake, and Motor Boat are seeking refuge from a raging hurricane. The struggle at the heart of the novel is set forth in the starkest terms: humans against God, Janie and the others against nature. A key action or event occurs when Motor Boat joins Janie and Tea Cake and the narrator notes that everybody is united in the same struggle.

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. Also, the sense of self that Janie gains from the love that she shares with Tea Cake enables her to endure another hostile force, the mean-spirited scorn of the black women of Eatonville. Janie finds some inner peace.

Zora Neale Hurston was born in January 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama. She was 69 when she died in January 1960 in Fort Pierce, Florida. Hurston was an American folklorist who celebrated African American culture. Her novels, short stories, and plays often depicted African American life in the South. Her work in anthropology astutely examined black folklore. She influenced many writers, forever cementing a place in history as one of the foremost female writers of the 20th century.

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