Why is Janie attracted to Tea Cake and why do most of the people in town disapprove of their romance?
When Janie first meets Tea Cake, she "[finds] herself glowing inside" because he asks her to play checkers with him. Tea Cake is a stark contrast to Joe Starks, who never let her play "men's" games, do men's work, or try anything new that he found to be inappropriate for a woman. Janie begins to treasure Tea Cake's company because he treats her as an equal, and wants for her to try new things such as fishing and shooting.
The town, on the other hand, disapproves of the relationship for many reasons. They see a wide social divide between Tea Cake and "Mrs. Mayor Starks." They believe Janie has not mourned long enough for Joe. Finally, they are shocked that she has taken up with a younger man and is acting like "some young girl" with him, including not going to church any more.
Janie is interested in, Vergible Wood or Tea Cake because he is totally different from her first two husbands. With Tea Cake, she feels young and free, he is younger than her, and this creates a bit of scandal in the town.
Because Janie has inherited Joe Starks property, she has her own financial status. She is pursued by a lot of different men, all who have reasons for wanting to marry her. She doesn't want to be dominated by a man again, that is why Tea Cake is so appealing to her. He is fun, introduces her to new activites and treats her more like an equal.
He doesn't have the typical attitude of outward domination like other men.