Illustration of the profile of Janine Crawford and another person facing each other

Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

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Chapter 11: Summary and Analysis

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One week after Tea Cake’s first visit, he comes back. By this time, Janie has decided to be cold to him and push him away, but she succumbs (yet again) to his charms. She jokes about him being rich, because he has his paycheck in his pocket, then plays checkers with him again. He then takes her fishing in the middle of the night, and they dig for worms by the light of a lamp. The next day, he brings her a present of fresh-caught trout. Later, Janie falls asleep while Tea Cake plays the piano and wakes up to find him running his fingers through her hair. He tells her she doesn’t know how beautiful she is. She balks, uncertain of his affections.

Tea Cake doesn’t come back for two days, determined to prove to her that he still loves her in the daytime. Convinced, Janie allows him to spend the night. Despite this, Janie has her doubts about Tea Cake and isn’t sure that she should go with him to the Sunday picnic. He guilts her into it by telling her that he worked like a dog for two weeks to save up enough money to take her. She agrees to go with him, setting aside her misgivings.


Paul the Apostle. Also known as Saint Paul, he was an apostle who lived in the first century. Though not one of the Twelve Apostles, he is nevertheless a prominent figure in Acts, the book of the Bible that focuses on the acts of the apostles. Tea Cake equates himself with Saint Paul because he is like an apostle, preaching to women about how beautiful they are. Janie suspects that he has done this to a lot of women, but he insists that none of the other women hold a candle to her.

Foreshadowing. Hurston uses foreshadowing when she says that Tea Cake worked “lak uh dawg.” Given that he will later contract rabies when he is bitten by a rabid dog, this idiom also functions as a subtle piece of foreshadowing.

Idioms. Tea Cake uses an idiom when he says he worked “lak uh dawg” for two weeks so he could make enough money to buy Janie something nice for the picnic.


Hurston uses many different similes in this chapter, including the one where Janie is “lit up like a transfiguration.”


Change. In previous chapters, Hurston emphasized how Janie went from being a youthful, passionate, and hopeful woman to a bitter, unhappy widow. In this chapter, however, that change is reversed, and Janie briefly feels herself “lit up like a transfiguration.” Fortunately or unfortunately, this change isn’t complete, and Janie still has reservations about getting involved with a younger man. These doubts will prove justified in the end, but for the moment their primary purpose in the narrative is to show how much Janie’s character has changed and will continue to change over time.

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Chapter 10: Summary and Analysis


Chapter 12: Summary and Analysis