Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their eyes were watching God

what makes janie and tea cakes relationship different from her first two marriages?


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The first important difference between the men is Janie's degree of sexual attraction to each. Janie loved Joe's ambition and his ability to dream, but she was never explicitly attracted to him physically. However, Janie is physically attracted to Tea Cake and his archetypically African-American features from the first moment that she sees him. She notices his "full purple lips," she admires his "full lazy eyes," with his "lashes curling sharply like drawn scimitars." She notices his "lean, over-padded shoulders" and his "narrow waist." Their flirtatious banter is a different sort of discourse with men than Janie has ever enjoyed before.

Another important difference from Joe Starks is that Tea Cake wants Janie to be a part of her community, to be like everyone else. Joe Starks always wanted Janie to stand out, to stand above everyone else. Tea Cake tells Janie that she should be at the game enjoying the sports with her neighbors. He tells Janie that she should learn to play checkers like the others, something that Joe would never allow her to do. Tea Cake tells Janie that she should learn to walk instead of relying on trains and cars.