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Janie Crawford had already spent quite some time in her two previous relationships when she met Mr. Wood alias, Tea Cake; at that time she was in her late forties. However, it was not until this time that she experienced real love. She tests him with two hundred dollars she pins in her shirt, but though afraid that he would not come back, he returns and tells her the truth about how he spends money. He promises to refund it after the weekend gambling. At this point, Janie wants to be involved in all Tea Cakes affairs and parties no matter how low class they seem. This proved that she was falling in love with him.
Later, while working in the fields, Janie grows so jealous of another lady who seemed to be flirting with Tea Cake while they were working. This jealousy coupled with anger growing so deep that it drives her to follow them one day when she realized that they had disappeared from the fields. She made it clear to the lady that Tea Cake was hers and she had no right to flirt with him. Tea Cake had to explain what was happening between them until they disappeared from the fields. This proves that Janie is in love with Tea Cake.
An African-American woman, Janie Crawford, tells about her life and the experiences of her marriages to three different men. Her Nanny was a slave and never got married. However, she gave birth to a daughter, Leafy, whom she tried to raise with much care so that she would not end up like herself. Unfortunately, Leafy was raped by her teacher and became pregnant with Janie. During her pregnancy, Leafy was a very emotionally disturbed girl whose dreams appeared to be cut short. This feeling of despair manifested itself more clearly after she gave birth to Janie. She began drinking and, at times, she would spend the night out. The situation worsened with time and she ran away leaving her daughter with the Nanny who tried everything to see that, what Leafy did not accomplish, the granddaughter did.
The Nanny’s big dream was to have Janie in a marriage and therefore she arranges a marriage for her at a tender age with an older man who does not even love her. Logan Killicks was looking for a domestic helper. Therefore, he always perceived Janie as a laborer which made her escape the hard labor with Jody Starks. However, Starks’ interest in Janie was not caused by love either but respect and prestige in their new town. This was a bit bearable compared to the previous situation. Later, Jody Starks passes away and Janie being single and independent gets the opportunity to fall in love with one of her suitors, Vergible Woods, who was a gambler and a drifter.
Finally, Janie is in love with Woods; Tea Cake. Later, the Okeechobee hurricane almost swept them but Tea Cake was bitten by a rabid dog while saving Janie. The disease almost made him kill his wife with a gun but she shot him first in self-defense which almost took her to prison.
Definition of Love
Love is one of the themes that this novel brings out so clearly. We can say that love grows where the parties have not been forced by any circumstance to be together. This has to be a two way street where both parties realize that they are growing fond of each other. It is love when they want each other for themselves and are really jealous about any third parties trying to flirt around. Janie’s previous relationship had nothing to do with love because it was arranged. She did not choose her husband. Moreover, she was very young to actually fall in love in a relationship that could lead to marriage. She had nothing in common with her first husband. To begin with, he was not her age mate. Imagining the differences in their views, likes and dislikes, it is only clear that Janie was enduring her marriage. Logan’s idea of a wife was a helper; somebody to take care of the domestic chores. She was not going to be his equal but he perceived her as one of the laborers. Though Jody rescued her from this hard labor, he was also not interested in love but his public image. He simply used Janie to get the respect and position he wanted in the new town.
Janie’s perspective of a fulfilling relationship was that it had to be based on respect from both parties and reciprocal in the sense that the man had also to sacrifice for the lady. Tea Cake is the only one who gave her this equality which was absent in her previous relationships. This made her love Tea Cake even more growing a deep connection with him and giving her a sense of belonging as well as possession of her man. People who love one another protect each other as we see Tea Cake rescuing Janie in the floods which even gets him bitten by a rabid dog. The hardest part of Janie’s life was when she lost her husband in self-defense and even got charged with murder. The pain was unimaginable when after getting acquitted of her charges, she found people in her old town gossiping about her.
Tea Cake’s death affected Janie so much because she loved him. He was totally different from Jody, who never had such feelings. Through the experience with Tea Cake, we see love, though with ups and downs, as a mutual feeling of care about each other where the parties get equal standards. This is in contrast with her previous relationships where she did not get the opportunity to choose a man she liked.