How are the porch gatherings here different from the ones in Eatonville? Please give specific details from the text to support your response.

Expert Answers
copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I assume by "here" you are referring to the portion of the novel when Tea Cake and Janie move onto the muck, the Everglades.

On the porches of Eatonville, and in particular on the store's porch, Janie was never allowed to be a participant in the bantering and storytelling that when on among men. She was allowed to listen and to witness, but Joe does not allow her to participate. It is no coincidence, then, that it is upon the store's porch that Janie finally "finds her voice" to stand up to Joe and emasculate him with her "when you pull down your britches, you look like the change of life" insult. Even with Joe gone, when Janie plays checkers on the store's porch most of Eatonville is left feeling very uncomfortable with the situation.

The porches in the Everglades are similar in one way but overall are very different. Just like in Eatonville, Janie's porch is a gathering spot:

Tea Cake's house was a magnet, the unauthorized center of the "job." The way he would sit in the doorway and play his guitar made people stop and listen and maybe disappoint the jook for that night. He was always laughing and full of fun too.

In most other ways, however, the porches are very different because of the attitudes of the people who occupy them. In Eatonville, Janie was a listener and a witness; on the muck, she is an active participant. Janie's memories of the store in Eatonville--and the actions on its porch from which she was prohibited--are central to her self-actualization.  As she says, in Eatonville:

The men held big arguments [...] like they used to do on the store porch. Only here [on the muck], she could listen and laugh and even talk some herself if she wanted to. She got so she could tell big storied herself from listening to the rest.

It is in the Everglades that Janie finally finds her voice and realizes her dreams.

Read the study guide:
Their Eyes Were Watching God

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