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And he [Tea Cake] stood in the door and paid all the ugly women two dollars not to come in. One big meriny colored woman was so ugly till it was worth five dollars for her not to come in, so he gave it to her. (13.38)
This shows society’s abhorrence of ugliness. Although this was meant in jest, Tea Cake’s actions show how much he despises ugliness. This is probably sanctioned by his own good looks and his attachment to Janie, who seems to hold similar condescension to for ugliness.
She [Annie Tyler] was broken and her pride was gone, so she told those who asked what had happened. Who Flung had taken her to a shabby room in a shabby house in a shabby street and promised to marry her next day. They stayed in the room two whole days then she woke up to find Who Flung and her money gone. She got up to stir around and see if she could find him, and found herself too worn out to do much. All she found out was that she was too old a vessel for new wine…. (13.13)
A woman’s pride, unlike a man’s is directly tied to her marriage. A woman cannot stand independently from men and expect to be taken seriously. Annie Tyler lost her pride when the conniving Who Flung makes a mockery of their engagement by seducing her to come to town and then making off with her money. When he doesn’t keep his promise of marrying her, it is not Who Flung who is shamed, but Annie Tyler. It’s pretty hypocritical to cast blame on the woman for what the man has done, but such were the norms of society.
But oh God, don’t let Tea Cake be off somewhere hurt and Ah not know nothing about it. (13.15)
Janie’s speaks this prayer, even though she suspects Tea Cake may have stolen her money and run off with a younger woman. Janie does not allow spite or jealousy to rule her heart, but instead prays saint-like for Tea Cake’s wellbeing. Is this woman for real?