Study Guide

Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 11

By Zora Neale Hurston

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Chapter 11

  • Janie worries about the kind of man Tea Cake is. She thinks he’s too young for her and that he probably just wants to take her money. Janie is determined not to get sucked into another loveless she's determined to treat Tea Cake coldly if he ever comes back.
  • He comes back after a week, and Janie can’t keep from being friendly to him. Janie and Tea Cake end up joking around again.
  • They play checkers, and while the store’s other customers are surprised, they don’t seem to disapprove.
  • Tea Cake walks Janie home again and this time ends up sitting with her on the porch—something Janie didn’t allow any of her other suitors to do. They end up chatting the night away and eating pound cake and drinking lemonade (freshly squeezed by Tea Cake).
  • After the late-night snack, Tea Cake takes Janie fishing, and she feels like a child gleefully breaking the rules. She doesn’t get back home until early in the morning.
  • The next day in the store, Hezekiah warns Janie that she shouldn’t be walking with Tea Cake at night. Janie asks if Tea Cake is a bad guy or a thief…or married. It seems that Hezekiah’s objection is that Tea Cake never has any money, so he has no place cozying up to a rich widow.
  • The next night when she gets home from work, Tea Cake is waiting for her on her porch with some fish he’s just caught. They go inside, and Janie cooks up the fish.
  • After dinner, Tea Cake starts playing the piano and singing, which lulls Janie to sleep. She awakes to find Tea Cake combing her hair. This apparently isn’t sketchy, but romantic. She really likes it, and it makes her even more comfortable.
  • He compliments her aspects—hair, lips, eyes. She points out that he’s probably said the same things to other women, which he says is true.
  • Janie says she’s going to go to bed. Tea Cake knows she’s just trying to get rid of him because she’s worried he’s "uh rounder and uh pimp." He’s pretty perceptive.
  • At this point, Janie walks away from him. Tea Cake all but admits he is in love with her.
  • Janie, however, plays it safe. She’s worried that he’s going to make fun of her later for being an "old fool" (she’s 12 years older than him). Janie says he only thinks he cares for her; this is just his "night thought." Essentially, she says she’s too old for him and he’ll change his mind about her by tomorrow morning.
  • Tea Cake leaves.
  • She goes to bed, but not before she checks out her hair, eyes, and mouth in the mirror. Maybe she’s checking to see if he was being honest in his compliments.
  • For one full day, he doesn't come, and Janie tries to console herself by convincing herself that he's trash anyway, spending his time with some other woman.
  • The next morning, Tea Cake returns with the intention of telling Janie his "daytime thoughts." In other words, he hasn’t changed his mind about loving her.
  • That night when Janie gets back from the store, she finds Tea Cake on the porch. They snuggle on the hammock for a little while. Next thing you know, they’re waking up in the morning and Tea Cake is kissing Janie all over.
  • After Tea Cake leaves to go to work, Janie lies in bed, incredibly happy.
  • After four days, Tea Cake comes back. In this interval, Janie has begun to doubt his love.
  • But, he comes back with a car and tells her they're going to town to buy groceries. He wants to take her to the Sunday school picnic on the morrow, and he re-declares his love for her when she questions him.

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