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"Janie, us got tuh git outa dis house and outa dis man’s town. Ah don’t mean tuh work lak dat no mo’."
"Naw, naw, Tea Cake. Less stay right in heah until it’s all over. If dey can’t see yuh, dey can’t bother yuh." (19.34-35)
Here, Janie reverts back to a stereotypically feminine role of wanting to be passive – out of fear. Tea Cake, however, asserts his masculinity by insisting on action.
When they were alone Tea Cake wanted to put his head in Janie’s lap and tell her how he felt and let her mama him in her sweet way. (19.116)
Tea Cake, in times of distress, wants Janie to take on an ultra-feminine role and comfort him just as a mother would. While men often put down women’s "weakness," in times like these, they define the same softness as "sweet" and tender.
Tea Cake began to cry and Janie hovered him in her arms like a child. She sat on the side of the bed and sort of rocked him back to peace. (19.123)
Tea Cake is able to show his vulnerability to Janie, but not to other men. Interestingly, we only see him show his vulnerability when Janie takes on the role of mother, rather than that of a wife. This is probably because he feels the need to protect a wife, but feels comfortable being taken care of by a mother.