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Annie Tyler is a character mentioned in Janie's memory as she weighs her decision to disregard the warnings and opinions of the townsfolk and run away to a new life with Tea Cake. The eNotes character analysis for Their Eyes Were Watching God describes her as a woman "who ran off with a younger man who was after her money." It goes on to remind us that "Her shameful return to the town after he has left her is a warning to Janie, who fears that Tea Cake will do the same to her." The story of Annie Tyler pops into Janie's mind at a moment of great fear--she has left the security of her position in Eatonville to marry the much younger Tea Cake. Shortly after they are married, Tea Cake claims that he is going fishing, but doesn't come back at the expected time. Janie's fear continues to grow as she realizes that her $200.00 of safety money has been stolen by Tea Cake. The eNotes summary and analysis further describes the reasons behind Janie's fear as she compares herself to Annie Tyler:
What scares Janie the most is this loss of pride and independence, since losing Tea Cake after being so certain would be the cruelest thing that could happen to her. Annie Tyler “had waited all her life for something, and it killed her when it found her.” Janie “done waited uh long time” as well, and she prays that the risk that she takes won’t kill her as well.
Some of the most evocative quotations in this section are the images of Annie Tyler when she leaves, so sure of her decision, and that of Ms. Tyler when she returns, utterly broken. Check them out below (from Chapter 13):
Her body squeezed and crowded into a tight corset that shoved her middle up under her chin. But she had gone off laughing and sure. As sure as Janie had been.
The corset gone and the shaking old woman hanging all over herself. Everything that you could see was hanging. Her chin hung from her ears and rippled down her neck like drapes. Her hanging bosom and stomach and buttocks and legs that draped down over her ankles. She groaned but never giggled.
Needless to say, Janie does not want to become another Annie Tyler. But in this moment of fear, she wonders if Tea Cake has used and left her--if she, too, is "too old a vessel for new wine."
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