Study Guide

Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 12

By Zora Neale Hurston

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Chapter 12

  • After the picnic, Janie begins spending more time with Tea Cake, and the town notices. They disapprove of her accompanying such a young man around with her husband only nine months in the grave.
  • Sam Watson discusses the matter with Pheoby. Pheoby still believes Janie will marry the undertaker from Sanford, but she doesn’t disapprove of Tea Cake as much as the men do. She points out that Janie is her own woman and can do what she wants. But, she agrees to talk to Janie nonetheless.
  • Pheoby goes to see Janie the next morning. Pheoby tells Janie that people are talking, saying that Tea Cake is dragging her off to low-class entertainments like baseball games. Janie admits she has always wanted to do that kind of was just that Joe wouldn’t let her.
  • Pheoby wants to know if Janie thinks Tea Cake is just after her money. Janie assures Pheoby that Tea Cake has never asked her to pay for anything. And if Tea Cake does want her money, then he’s no different than the other suitors that the townspeople approve of.
  • Pheoby also cautions Janie about seeing a younger man—they’re usually in the relationship for money.
  • Janie says she intends to marry Tea Cake, sell the store, and start a new life far from Eatonville. She doesn’t want to stick around and have everyone comparing Tea Cake to Joe Starks.
  • Janie explains that Nanny wanted her to live the leisurely life of a white woman, which is what she obtained with Joe, but she felt she was being suffocated. Now that she’s done what her grandma wanted her to, she can go off and live her life the way she chooses.
  • Janie asks Pheoby not to tell everyone her plans to sell the store and go off with Tea Cake. She’ll make it public when she’s ready.
  • Janie is determined to try for a new life with Tea Cake.

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