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The day of the gun, and the bloody body, and the courthouse came and commenced to sing a sobbing sigh out of every corner in the room; out of each and every chair and thing. Commenced to sing, commenced to sob to sigh, singing and sobbing. Then Tea Cake came prancing around her where she was and the song of the sigh flew out of the window and lit in the top of the pine trees. Tea Cake, with the sun for a shawl. Of course he wasn’t dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. (20.12)
Janie finds comfort, salvation, and even life in her memories. For her, Tea Cake is not dead; he cannot be until she can no longer remember him.
Because they really loved Janie just a little less than they had loved Tea Cake, and because they wanted to think well of themselves, they wanted their hostile attitude forgotten. So they blamed it all on Mrs. Turner’s brother and ran him off the muck again. They’d show him about coming back there posing like he was good looking and putting himself where men’s wives could look at him. Even if they didn’t look it wasn’t his fault, he had put himself in the way. (20.1)
Interestingly, it is not really Janie’s forgiveness that the men seek, but her forgetfulness. Perhaps they desire this because they cannot really forgive Janie for killing Tea Cake and would be free to resent her forever if their sin was forgotten but not necessarily forgiven. Either way, they demonstrate their apology to Janie indirectly – by driving the Turner brother from the Everglades. Janie couldn’t care less because she forgave them without expecting anything in return.