Their Eyes Were Watching God
How we cite our quotes:
But to kill her through Tea Cake was too much to bear. Tea Cake, the son of Evening Sun, had to die for loving her. (19.104)
Janie blames herself for Tea Cake’s upcoming death. Tea Cake got rabies because he loved Janie enough to save her from the rabid dog. Because of his love for her, he essentially sacrifices himself. Janie feels guilty for being the cause of her true love’s death.
Now she was her sacrificing self with Tea Cake’s head in her lap. She had wanted him to live so much and he was dead. No hour is ever eternity, but it has its right to weep. Janie held his head tightly to her breast and wept and thanked him wordlessly for giving her the chance for loving service. She had to hug him tight for soon he would be gone, and she had to tell him for the last time. (19.153)
After the tragedy of being forced to shoot her love, Janie grievously laments his death. But most importantly, she is grateful for having the privilege to know and love him. Janie didn’t only need to feel loved, but be able to give love. Recall that on his deathbed, Jamie accused Joe of not allowing her to love him.
[Janie]: "Dey gointuh make ‘miration ‘cause mah love didn’t work lak they love, if dey ever had any. Then you must tell ‘em dat love ain’t somethin’ lak uh grindstone dat’s de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch. Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore." (20.7)
Janie lectures Pheoby that love is not a fixed thing that is the same for everyone who experiences it. Instead it is as fluid and changing as the sea, only shaped by the shores (or men) it meets. Society has a normative and inflexible idea of what love is, when actual love is different for everyone.