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 15: Summary and Analysis

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Janie grows jealous when a young woman named Nunkie starts flirting with Tea Cake. One day, Tea Cake and Nunkie disappear, and Janie finds them struggling in the sugarcane. He claims that Nunkie took his work tickets from his shirt pocket and he was only trying to get them back. Janie lunges at Nunkie, then fights with Tea Cake. They make up that same night.


Hurston uses a metaphor when she says that Janie’s “little seed of fear was growing into a tree.”


Domestic Violence. In previous chapters, Janie was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of Joe Starks and of poor treatment from Logan Killicks. She never fought back, and when she did, it was with words and thoughts that did no physical damage. In this chapter, however, she strikes out at Tea Cake to punish him for cheating or attempting to cheat on her. Unlike Janie, Tea Cake immediately fights back, and their struggle leads to a rough, passionate reconciliation.

Fidelity. Though Janie’s previous marriages certainly weren’t perfect, there has never been any mention of Joe or Logan cheating on her. No doubt, Joe had the opportunity to do so, but he either refrained out of respect for Janie or did it surreptitiously, without her knowing or caring. Tea Cake’s infidelity, on the other hand, is brazen, a product of his unpredictable behavior. He denies any wrongdoing on his part, but this doesn't change the fact that he is not trustworthy.

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Chapter 14: Summary and Analysis


Chapter 16: Summary and Analysis