Study Guide

Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 13

By Zora Neale Hurston

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Chapter 13

  • Janie receives a letter from Tea Cake telling her to come to Jacksonville; she leaves the next morning in her wedding clothes—blue satin picked out by Tea Cake. There are few awake to witness her leaving.
  • She and Tea Cake get married. Janie doesn’t tell Tea Cake about the $200 she's brought with her, at Pheoby’s urging, just in case things don’t go well.
  • After being married for a week, Janie wakes up to find Tea Cake gone. This doesn’t alarm her terribly because he had said earlier that he was planning on going fishing. Hours pass, and Tea Cake doesn’t return. Then, Janie discovers her secret stash of $200 is missing.
  • The image of an Eatonville widow named Mrs. Tyler jumps into Janie’s mind. Mrs. Tyler was courted by a young tramp named Who Flung who promised to marry her...then left her penniless in a strange town.
  • Tea Cake eventually comes home that night, serenading her with a guitar and his voice. He assures her that he’s very much in love with her. He’s know plenty of women, but she’s the only woman he ever even considered marrying.
  • He tells a relieved Janie that he did indeed take her $200. He had never had so much money in his life before and decided to put on a party. He partied with all the railroad hands and spent all but $12. In his defense, he says he wanted to come back and bring Janie, too, but was scared that she wouldn’t want to mingle with such common people. Janie assures him otherwise and demands that she’s not left out of the action in the future.
  • Tea Cake tries to win back the $200 gambling. He is gone almost all night, and Janie begins to worry. To distract herself, she comes up with arguments about how Tea Cake is a better man, despite his gambling habit, than all sorts of "so-called Christians" who might criticize him.
  • When Tea Cake finally shows up at dawn, he looks like he's asleep. Janie discovers it is from blood loss.
  • Tea Cake got into a fight with another gambler named Double-Ugly who had lost all his money and accused Tea Cake of cheating. Tea Cake got away with his winnings and two wounds from Double-Ugly’s razor.
  • Janie cries as she cleans her husband’s wounds and listens to his story.
  • He's won back more than just the $200. He has a total of $322, and he tells Janie to take her $200 back.
  • He vows that they’ll live off his earnings and not depend on her cash or the money she's saved up in her bank account.
  • Tea Cake assures his wife that they’ll go try their luck farming in the Everglades once he recovers. As he falls asleep, Janie feels a "self-crushing love" for him.

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