Then the band played, and Tea Cake rode like Pharaoh to his tomb. No expensive veils and robes for Janie this time. She went on in her overalls. She was too busy feeling grief to dress like grief. (19.183
Janie dressed in expensive black veils and such for Joe’s funeral, but she doesn’t do the same for the man whom she truly loved. Tea Cake’s funeral isn’t an opportunity to flaunt her wealth or status; the only reason Janie used so much money for Tea Cake is because that’s her personal way of lovingly saying goodbye. Wearing overalls to Tea Cake’s funeral shows that the money spent on the ceremony was not her way of showing off to the community. If her intention was to show off, she would have remembered to put on some pretty, expensive clothes.