Their Eyes Were Watching God
How we cite our quotes:
[Janie]: "Still and all you went off and left me all day and all night."
[Tea Cake]: "Twasn’t ‘cause Ah wanted tuh stay off lak day, and it sho Lawd, wuzn’t no woman. If you didn’t have de power tuh hold me and hold me tight, Ah wouldn’t be callin’ yuh Mis’ Woods. Ah met plenty women before Ah knowed you tuh talk tuh. You’se de onliest woman in de world Ah ever even mentioned gittin married tuh. You bein’ older don’t make no difference. Don’t never consider dat no mo’. If Ah ever gits tuh messin’ round another woman it won’t be on account of her age. It’ll be because she got me in de same way you got me – so Ah can’t help mahself." (13.26-27)
Tea Cake declares his love and faithfulness to Janie. He comes out and states that Janie’s age is of no consequence to him. Tea Cake’s last sentence renders love as some sort of inexplicable force that mortal men cannot resist. Janie should be especially responsive to this because she has been swept away by passion before, first under the pear tree of her youth and now by Tea Cake.
He [Tea Cake] drifted off into sleep and Janie looked down him and felt a self-crushing love. So her soul crawled out from its hiding place. (13.83)
The image of Tea Cake sleeping brings on a wave of nurturing, maternal love in Janie. This love is so overwhelming and selfless that it is "self-crushing" and it puts to rest any fears Janie might have of the intensity of her love. So this makes it safe for her battered soul to "crawl…out from its hiding place" and make herself vulnerable to Tea Cake.
Janie stayed home and boiled big pots of blackeyed peas and rice. Sometimes baked big pans of navy beans with plenty of sugar and hunks of bacon laying on top. That was something Tea Cake loved so no matter if Janie had fixed beans two or three times during the week, they had baked beans again on Sunday. She always had some kind of dessert too, as Tea Cake said it give a man something to taper off on. Sometimes she’d straighten out the two-room house and take the rifle and have fried rabbit for supper when Tea Cake got home. She didn’t leave him itching and scratching in his work clothes, either. The kettle of hot water was already waiting when he got in. (14.19)
Janie’s devotion to Tea Cake is all-consuming. She sets about showing her love in the only way she knows how – by making the home as welcoming as possible. She caters the dinner menu to his taste, cooking his favorite dishes and making sure to always have a hot bath drawn for him when he comes home.