Their Eyes Were Watching God
How we cite our quotes:
Janie learned what it felt like to be jealous. A little chunky girl took to picking a play out of Tea Cake in the fields and in the quarters. If he said anything at all, she’d take the opposite side and hit him or shove him and run away to make him chase her. Janie knew what she was up to – luring him away from the crowd. It kept up for two or three weeks with Nunkie getting bolder all the time. She’d hit Tea Cake playfully and the minute he so much as tapped her with his finger she’d fall against him or fall on the ground and have to be picked up. She’d be almost helpless. It took a good deal of handling to set her on her feet again. And another thing, Tea Cake didn’t seem to be able to fend her off as promptly as Janie thought he ought to. She began to be snappish a little. A little seed of fear was growing into a tree. (15.1)
Janie finally learns what it feels like to be truly jealous of another woman. This young, chunky Nunkie seems to inspire a dangerous degree of playfulness in Tea Cake, according to Janie. The jealousy felt by Logan and Joe earlier in the novel is finally manifested in Janie because she has finally found true love and fears losing it. This kind of puts her two previous marriages into perspective; maybe both Logan and Joe truly loved Janie as much as Janie now loves Tea Cake.
He [Sop-de-Bottom] waved his hand towards the cane field and hurried away. Janie never thought at all. She just acted on feelings. She rushed into the cane and about the fifth row down she found Tea Cake and Nunkie struggling. She was on them before either knew.
"Whut’s de matter heah?" Janie asked in a cold rage. They sprang apart.
"Nothin’," Tea Cake told her, standing shame-faced.
"Well, whut you doin’ in heah? How come you ain’t out dere wid de rest?"
"She grabbed mah workin’ tickets outa mah shirt pocket and Ah run tuh git ‘em back," Tea Cake explained, showing the tickets, considerably mauled about in the struggle. (15.4-8)
When afflicted by jealousy, Janie loses all rational thought. She "just act[s] on feelings" and when she finds the guilty couple, interrogates them coldly, reveling in both party’s guilt. Her jealousy here is at least somewhat justified because Tea Cake is indeed messing around with Nunkie more than is socially acceptable for a married man. It’s interesting that jealousy makes Janie the more animated than she is in any other part of the whole novel.
Janie made a move to seize Nunkie but the girl fled. So she took out behind her over the humped-up cane rows. But Nunkie did not mean to be caught. So Janie went on home. The sight of the fields and the other happy people was too much for her that day. She walked slowly and thoughtfully to the quarters. It wasn’t long before Tea Cake found her there and tried to talk. She cut him short with a blow and they fought from one room to the other, Janie trying to beat him, and Tea Cake kept holding her wrists and whatever he could to keep her from going too far. (15.9)
Janie’s jealousy manifests itself physically. She chases Nunkie with a malicious intent and when she sees Tea Cake, she is so enraged that she loses control and tries to beat him with her fists. This is the first time readers have seen Janie so intensely emotional that words will not come and she expresses herself physically instead. She’s kind of a banshee in this scene.