In the face of the hurricane, how does Tea Cake's belief system reveal itself to mirror that of Joe Stark's in Their Eyes Were Watching God?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Joe Starks and Tea Cake are strong, dominant men who are leaders in their communities. Since they are leaders, they like to make their own decisions without anyone's help--least of all Janie's. They like to be obeyed and respected for who they are and don't like to admit they need help or are defeated in any way. They also don't make any major decisions with Janie or anyone else. Major decisions are not made by either man unless he is forced into making one. For example, when the hurricane is about to hit, 'Lias offers Tea Cake and Janie a ride in his car to get away from it in chapter 18; but, Tea Cake decides to stay because he believes that he will miss out on making money the next day when work begins again. He also watches the white people in the big house, and since they haven't decided to leave when 'Lias invites Tea Cake to leave, he won't go. It isn't until Tea Cake sees dead things floating in waist-high water around his house that he decides to leave the Muck. 

Another example of stubbornness that both husbands share is that they refuse doctors when they are sick and need one and they won't admit that they need real help, either. Joe goes to a root doctor rather than a real medical doctor when he becomes overweight and sick. As a result, Joe dies from kidney disease, which could have been treated if he had received the proper treatment at the right time. As with Starks, Tea Cake refuses to see a doctor after being bitten by a rabid dog during the hurricane because he'd rather find a place to rest instead. Both men suffer death because of such stubbornness and pride.

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

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