Their Eyes Were Watching God Plot Summary
Janie Crawford arrives home after a long trip. She begins to tell the story of the last twenty years of her life to her best hometown friend, Pheoby.
Janie's story starts with her youth, as a girl in search of great things. Raised by her grandmother, a black woman raped by a white man, Janie never really has the chance to go out in search of her dreams. Her grandmother, having grown up during slavery, never had much of anything, including a voice. She was always repressed by white people, and never could have the kind of nice things that she wanted. When Janie's mother is raped, she runs away and leaves Janie to be taken care of by her grandmother. Her grandmother only wants Janie to have the kinds of things she never had the chance to have. So, despite Janie's refusal, she arranges for Janie to marry a man named Logan Killicks.
This marriage does not fulfill Janie like she imagines a marriage should. Logan makes Janie work hard and cares little about her opinions. Janie is in search of a husband and a love that make her feel wonderful all over, just like watching the bees sink into the pear tree blossom. When Joe Starks, a well-dressed man with big dreams comes along, Janie thinks this might be her chance at love and a better life. Thus, she leaves Logan and runs off with Joe Starks. They get married and move to a town called Eatonville, where Joe becomes a big voice as the mayor. He becomes such a big voice that he is always silencing Janie. She never has a chance to speak her mind, and her marriage to Joe is not what she had hoped for. After Joe dies, Tea Cake starts hanging around Janie. She falls in love with his carefree attitude and the way that he makes her feel like a pear tree in bloom. He allows her to speak and loves her for herself, and not the money she made while with Joe.
Tea Cake and Janie move to the Everglades to work on the muck where beans and sugar cane thrive. They live off the money they earn and are happy and in love. When a great hurricane comes, they are forced to flee for their lives. Tea Cake saves Janie's life from a rabid dog, but he gets bit in the process. Tea Cakes falls ill from the rabid dog, and, in his delirium, tries to kill Janie. She shoots first and kills Tea Cake. She is broken-hearted that she shot and killed the one man she ever loved, but she is happy she had the chance to love at all. Janie is put on trial, but found innocent.
Janie finishes her story to Pheoby. As Janie goes upstairs to bed she feels Tea Cake is still with her and is satisfied.