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- Logan Killicks-Janie's first husband turns out to be the opposite of what she expected form love and marriage. Forced to marry him by her grandmother because he can give her a house and sixty acres of farmland, Janie finds none of the awakening and vitality that she experienced from her first kiss. Instead, his ugly appearance and body odor repulse her and lead her to believe that although her grandmother wants security, she wants to live her life freely. When Logan tells her he is going to buy a mule for her to plow with, Janie decides that life with him is not what she bargained for. She leaves him when Joe Starks comes along.
- Joe Starks-At first, it seems like Joe is exactly what Jannie has been waiting for. He rescues her from Logan & takes her to Eatonville, where he can succeed in a way impossible in other towns. Although Janie is reluctant to go, Jody sweetalks her, offering a chance for adventure. But this dream turns sour soon as well. When Jody becomes mayor, Janie becomes a "pretty doll-baby," a token of his stature in the town. Jody defines himself by his position and possessions, and the most valuable of those is Janie. So Jody silences Janie's development and keeps her from participating in the town's talk on the porch of their store. Jody's world becomes a kind of prison for Janie, who realizes that her "image" of him has "tumbled down and shattered." The final straw comes when he ridicules her body in public, and she tells him, "When you pull down yo' britches, you look lak de change uh life." Standing up for herself becomes the breaking poit for him, as he quickly deteriorates after this incident. But Janie realizes that all he's given her is money-there's been no real change internally.
- Tea Cake-Janie's final love is the one who changes her life. Lacking the material wealth of Jody, Tea-Cake has charisma and an inner life that Janie has been seeking. They become equals and their house becomes the center of the community, hosting dances and card games. Tea Cake helps Janie grow in two important ways: by encouraging her to accept herself and to feel at home in the black community. The space he creates for her that makes these two things possible is a loving relationship that satisfies Janie's spiritual needs, rather than focusing on the material wants that had defined her two previous marriages. However, their relationship is marred by physical violence, & many critics still see Tea-Cake as a dominating male.
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