(not the absence of it)
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I think Tea Cake is the only man that Janie really loved. Despite his shortcomings, she cared about him and even blamed herself for his death:
"But to kill her through Tea Cake was too much to bear. Tea Cake, the son of Evening Sun, had to die for loving her."
Tea Cake had loved Janie enough to save her from the rabid dog but paid the price for it.