Illustration of the profile of Janine Crawford and another person facing each other

Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

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Is Tea Cake a good person?

Tea Cake is a good person in Their Eyes Were Watching God. However, because he is a complex and three-dimensional character, he is also flawed, as real people are. He is vibrant, happy, confident, and helps Janie grow as a person. However, he is also selfish, beating and stealing from Janie, and he is overly prone to taking risks. In the end, however, his heroism redeems him.

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Tea Cake is a complex and three-dimensional character, so it is difficult to slot him neatly into categories of "good" and "bad." Janie loves Tea Cake, who is twelve years her junior, and because of his young, vibrant, happy, and creative personality, he helps her grow as a person in a way her first two husbands never did. He is self-confident but not ambitious and enjoys teaching her to play checkers and shoot a gun.

However, Tea Cake's love for Janie is marred by his selfishness. He steals from her and beats her when he fears she is interested in another man, focusing on his own fears rather than on her needs. Tea Cake doesn't make Janie do what he wants, but as the beating and stealing shows, he is also often more focused on himself than on her. The darker side of his confidence is his tendency to take too many risks. As the relationship develops, Janie realizes that it will not be as perfect as she first envisioned it.

In the end, Tea Cake's tendency to take risks means that stay too long in the Everglades, and he and Janie encounter the hurricane. However, he is heroic in saving Janie from the rabid dog during the hurricane, even though it means his own death. In the end, Tea Cake, though flawed, emerges as a good character and a hero.

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