Their Eyes Were Watching God

Gender. How does Tea Cake let Janie be herself?


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The distinction between activities appropriate for men and those appropriate for women is strongly drawn in the first half of this novel. Janie is prohibited from speaking her mind, playing checkers, and attending mule funerals. Hurston suggests that these gender constructions are absurd, however. One of Tea Cake's most appealing characteristics is that he empowers Janie to break these rules. Tea Cake encourages her to work, play checkers, speak out, fish, and shoot a gun.