Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 13: Summary and Analysis
by Zora Neale Hurston

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Chapter 13: Summary and Analysis

Janie travels to Jacksonville, Florida, where she marries Tea Cake just as soon as she gets off the train. She doesn't tell Tea Cake, but she brought $200 along with her just in case things go south and she needs to go home to Eatonville. Soon after they arrive, Tea Cake disappears one day and takes the money with him. Frightened, Janie searches the room, growing increasingly depressed, thinking that Tea Cake has taken advantage of her. She remembers the story of Mrs. Tyler, an old woman who was tricked by a young man aptly named Who Flung. Janie doesn't want to be made a fool of like Mrs. Tyler, but fears she already has been.

Tea Cake returns later with a guitar and a big grin. He tells her that she shouldn't be worried, then forces her to sit down and eat before he tells her what he was doing all day. So he tells her that he took her money and threw a big party that she wasn't invited to. He bought chicken and macaroni and invited people to party around the railroad shops. He even paid women he found unattractive $2 not to come. There was some trouble when a man took more than his fair share of chicken and gizzards, but Tea Cake took care of it. Then he bought a guitar.

Naturally, Janie's upset that Tea Cake didn't come back and take her to the party. He tells her that he intended to come, but that he didn't do it because he was afraid of losing her. The guests were rowdy railroad workers, and he worried that they were too "common" for Janie. For some strange reason, Janie buys Tea Cake's story and forgives him. He then spends the next week practicing at dice so that he can win back Janie's money. He's a good gambler, and he succeeds, but one of his opponents gets mad and cuts him because of it. He heals, and they take his winnings ($322) and go live "on the muck" in the Everglades.


Janie's threat that she'll kill Tea Cake if he ever runs off without her again foreshadows the scene in Chapter 19 when she's forced to kill Tea Cake.


Hurston uses metaphor in the line: "But it was always going to be dark to Janie if Tea Cake didn't soon come back." This darkness isn't literal but rather metaphorical, the kind of darkness that one feels when one is depressed. Its presence suggests that Tea Cake has become the center of Janie's emotional world and that she would in some ways be lost without him.


Hurston personifies the moon when she speaks of it sending out spies, being playful and foolish, and dressing all in white (a clear...

(The entire section is 685 words.)