Three major changes that Janie goes through in Their Eyes Were Watching God are that (1) she fits in with a community, (2) learns to do previously gender-restricted activities, and (3) acts with courage on her own behalf. In her marriage to Joe (Jody) Starks, she played a role as mayors wife and as such had to adopt a public persona that replaced her real personality and self while her civic position shut her off from socializing freely with the rest of the community. When she marries Tea Cake (Virgible Woods) and returns with him to his home town, she makes a place for herself in the community, whcih welcomes her.
While married to Jody, Janie was restricted by her female gender from participating in or learning to fish or hunt. Jody would go on trips and leave Janie behind because she was a woman. In contrast, Tea Cake not only takes Janie with him, he teaches her to hunt and fish on her own.
At the end of their time together, Tea Cake contracted rabies, which is fatal if allowed to progress in its course of development. Tea Cake didn't know he had gotten rabies until it was too late for treatment. When he goes mad from the rabies (its near-final stage) and tries to kill Janie, she has to decide to act with courage to save herself. She uses the skill Tea Cake has taught her and shoots him to save herself, thus fully liberating her still partially suppressed self, giving her her greatest change: She becomes fully herself and independent.