Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston centers around the life of Janie Crawford, an African American young woman, who is seeking ‘the horizon’ comprised of ideal living, experiences, and authentic love. After having two failed marriages, Janie meets Tea Cake, a suave, charming younger man who truly loves Janie. By exposing Janie to the world, and providing her with experiences and memories, Tea Cake directs her to the ‘horizon,’ where she can lead a fulfilling life. The selected passage begins as Janie concludes sharing her story with Phoeby. The flashback comes to its end, and the setting returns to Eatonville, Florida. I selected this passage because it reveals the great impact that Tea Cake has had on shaping Janie’s life.
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Janie notes that the house ‘ain’t so absent of things lak it used tuh be befo’ Tea Cake come along.’ The word ‘things’ has a double connotation to it. It may suggest materialistic belongings acquired by Janie’s marriage to Joe Starks. ‘Things’ also implies memories, experiences, and real love that Tea Cake shares with Janie. Ironically, the house is full of lavish things. However, Janie is clearly not satisfied with material ‘things’ and considers them to possess no significance, since it can be inferred from the passage that the house was empty of ‘things’ prior to Tea Cake’s arrival. Tea Cake introduces the meaning of life to Janie, and grants her with experience that will withstand the superior definition of ‘things’ and will live forever in her memories.
‘The room’ serves as another factor of comparison. The bedroom symbolizes types of loves, Janie has experienced through her marriages. Janie and Tea Cake’s marriage presents a physical and a more equal aspect of love, unforeseen by Janie’s first two marriages. Tea Cake caresses Janie’s hair, compliments her physical features, and teaches her how to play checkers and shoot a gun.
The experiences that Tea Cake provides Janie with, also permits Janie to establish a voice. Janie’s experiences and past exclusively belong to her. This self-possession presents Janie with her voice. She does not need authorization from