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Besides she liked being lonesome for a change. This freedom feeling was fine. These men didn’t represent a thing she wanted to know about. She had already experienced them through Logan and Joe. She felt like slapping some of them for sitting around grinning at her like a pack of chessy cats, trying to make out they looked like love. (9.7)
Having experienced horrible failed marriages with Logan and Joe, Janie enjoys her single status for the first time in a long time. Now she knows what she wants out of a man and she definitely knows what she doesn’t want – pretense of love. Now that Janie has learned what love is not, she will soon learn what it is.
He (Tea Cake) set it (the checkers) up and began to show her and she found herself glowing inside. Somebody wanted her to play. Somebody thought it natural for her to play. That was even nice. She looked him over and got little thrills from one of his good points. Those full, lazy eyes with the lashes curling sharply away like drawn scimitars. Then lean-over-padded shoulders and narrow waist. Even nice! (10.25)
Because Tea Cake treats Janie like an equal and intelligent person, Janie finds herself more attracted to him. His classy treatment of her opens the door for love. Where Janie would have normally overlooked him as another suitor and continued happily in her widowhood, Tea Cake’s behavior sets him apart from the other self-absorbed men and presents Janie with a chance to finally experience the love she has pursued all her life.
"Why, Tea Cake? Whut good do combin’ mah hair do you? It’s mah comfortable , not yourn."
"It’s mine too. Ah ain’t been sleepin’ so good for more’n uh week cause Ah been wishin’ so bad tuh git mah hands in yo’ hair. It’s so pretty. It feels jus’ lak underneath uh dove’s wing next to mah face." (11.37-38)
The fact that Tea Cake takes pleasure in giving pleasure to Janie endears him to her. Janie has only known selfish men who only took pleasure in pleasing themselves. Logan and Joe’s short-lived attempts to please Janie always fell short or turned out to be only pretense. That Tea Cake can find happiness in pleasing Janie helps him win her love; his actions bring them mutual happiness.