Some critics have called the muck “an Eden,” is it? What is the difference between the muck and Eatonville?Their Eyes Were Watching God chapter 14
In many ways, the muck--the Everglades--could be considered something like an Eden for Janie. All of her life, Janie has dreamed of a place where she can be herself and she can love the man she is with for all of the right reasons. It never was possible with Logan or with Joe, but with Tea Cake and surrounded by the way of life in the Everglades, Janie finally realizes her dream.
As we learn from the narrator:
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. He kept everybody laughing in the bean field.
It is this description of "the center" of things that touches on Janie's dream of love and happiness. It is this element of fun and good-natured humor that brings Janie closest to her dreams. Even at work in the fields, Janie and Tea Cake are in love and enjoying the fun of each other's company:
But all day long the romping and playing they carried on behind the boss's back made her popular right away. It got the whole field to playing off and on. Then Tea Cake would help get supper afterwards.
The love and the fun that Janie and Tea Cake are able to create breaks down gender-stratified roles she has played up until the point in her life. As she says:
Clerkin' in dat store wuz hard, but heah, w ain't got nothin' tuh do but do our work and come home and love.
In fact, throughout this chapter, 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.