At the outset of Chapter Eighteen, Janie and Tea Cake notice large bands of Seminole Indians leaving the Everglades, worried about a hurricane; the following day a "crawling horde" (147) of animals also move east towards higher ground. Although friends offer Janie and Tea Cake a ride out of the swampland, Tea Cake refuses, certain that nothing will happen. The majority of workers on the muck remain eating, playing music, and gambling as the weather gets worse. That night, however, a heavy wind and rainstorm causes the water of Lake Okechobee to rise, flooding the muck. Janie and Tea Cake run through the hurricane in order to escape the pursuing lake.
In the midst of their frenzied escape, they encounter a cow with a "massive built dog" (157) sitting on the cow's shoulders. When Janie grabs onto the cow's tail to keep from drowning the ferocious dog attacks her. Tea Cake defends Janie with his knife, killing the dog. During the struggle, however, the dog bites Tea Cake on the cheek, an incident which has serious repercussions during the novel's climax in the next chapter. By the next day the hurricane has subsided as Janie and Tea Cake arrive in Palm Beach. Janie wants a doctor to look at Tea Cake's face where the dog bit him but he refuses, insisting that it is more important to find a place to rest after the long, terrifying night.