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All next day in the house and store she thought resisting thoughts about Tea Cake. She even ridiculed him in her mind and was a little ashamed of the association. But every hour or two the battle had to be fought all over again. She couldn’t make him look just like any other man to her. He looked like the love thoughts of women. He could be a bee to a blossom – a pear tree blossom in the spring. He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps. Crushing aromatic herbs with every step he took. Spices hung about him. He was a glance from God. (11.68)
Janie’s prudence warns her against getting too intimate with Tea Cake, but fate pulls her inevitably towards him. It’s almost like his appearance and smell make him completely irresistible and she has little choice about whether or not to fall in love with him.
[Janie]: "Well, is he – he – is he got uh wife or something lak dat?"…
[Hezekiah]: "No’m. And nobody wouldn’t marry Tea Cake tuh starve tuh death lessen it’s somebody jes lak him – ain’t used to nothin’. ‘Course he always keep hisself in changin’ clothes. Dat long-legged Tea Cake ain’t got doodly squat. He ain’t got no business makin’ hissef familiar wid nobody lak you." (11.30-31)
Hezekiah thinks Tea Cake shouldn’t be spending time with Janie, not because Tea Cake is a bad person or a criminal, but simply because he’s poor. To Hezekiah, social status is more important than a person’s character.
"Why, Tea Cake? Whut good do combin’ mah hair do you? It’s mah comfortable , not yourn."
"It’s mine too. Ah ain’t been sleepin’ so good for more’n uh week cause Ah been wishin’ so bad tuh git mah hands in yo’ hair. It’s so pretty. It feels jus’ lak underneath uh dove’s wing next to mah face." (11.37-38)
By sharing in Janie’s pleasure, Tea Cake does not manipulate her into a single confining sex object role. Instead, by giving both of them pleasure, Tea Cake gives both the freedom to enjoy the experience.