Explain this comment: "After Nanny, this man, who is called Tea Cake (“Tea Cake! So you sweet as all dat?”), is the staunchest feminist in the novel. He pushes Janie to play the games, talk the talk, and “have de nerve tuh say whut you mean.” (Pierpont). Support your claims with quotes and evidence from the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

After Nanny, Tea Cake can be considered the staunchest feminist because he is supportive of Janie and kind to her. His and Janie's relationship is quite different than her previous marriages, which were stifling and ridden with jealousy. Tea Cake appreciates Janie for her personality and intelligence. He does not hold her back from doing what she wants.

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Tea Cake, Janie's third husband, could arguably be labeled as the "staunchest feminist in the novel" because he makes space for Janie to be her whole, true self. Tea Cake's positioning as a feminist can be seen when he is compared to Janie's two former husbands, Logan Killicks and Joe Starks. Janie is married off to Logan when she is quite young. Her Nanny wants her to have a financially stable life and believes that Logan will be a solid provider. But once Janie is married, she soon realizes that Logan simply wants her to act as a domestic servant to cook his meals, clean the house, and work in the field. Logan does not care to have conversation with Janie, so when Joe Starks comes ambling down the road one day, it is not a surprise that she runs away with him.

At first, Joe appears to be more supportive of Janie. When the two get to Eatonville and open the store, Janie takes care of customers. At first she enjoys this, and Joe encourages. However, as time goes on, Joe becomes possessive of Janie because other men see her beauty. He rebukes her for her wit and intelligence.

By the time Tea Cake comes into Janie's life, she is a middle-aged woman with wealth from her previous marriage, and the townspeople fear that Tea Cake only wants to court Janie to steal her money. However, Tea Cake never asks Janie for any money and is content to be with her for her personality. Tea Cake is romantic and makes Janie feel special. Even after time passes, the relationship has its average conflicts, but Tea Cake continues to support Janie unlike her previous two husbands did. Therefore, Tea Cake can be defined as a feminist in the novel.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on March 19, 2020
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