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Perhaps Tea Cake does act out of character when he beats Janie because, until the incident, he appears to be an atypical man of the time period. He has treated Janie as an equal and truly loves her as his partner rather than as someone inferior to him. When Mrs. Turner brings her brother to Tea Cake's house in chapter 17, however, the stereotypical and societal expectations of a black man's behavior with his wife surface and pressure Tea Cake to conform to these expectations so that he feels he must assert his dominance over Janie "tuh show dem Turners who is boss" (141).
Perhaps Janie remains silent because she understands the way society, at that time, worked. She loves Tea Cake and knows he is not beathing her because of anything SHE has done, so her silence might actually be an expression of her love for him.
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