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Chapter 11

Janie wants to ask Hezekiah about Tea Cake but doesn't want to seem interested: after all, Tea Cake is probably twenty-five, and she's around forty. She isn't sure what she'd do if she saw him again. Exactly a week later, he appears in the store, and they pick up where they left off, talking and laughing. They play checkers again, this time on the porch with some of the townspeople watching. At first the porch-sitters are surprised, but they like it, seeing Janie enjoy herself. At the end of the night, Janie and Tea Cake walk to Janie's house. They sit on the porch together and Janie brings out cake and lemonade. Suddenly, Tea Cake suggests they go fishing; although the idea seems crazy, they dig for worms, catch some fish and return home just before day. She has to sneak Tea Cake out the back gate so no one will jump to conclusions.

When she gets to the store, Hezekiah sullenly warns her about Tea Cake. Janie asks if he's a thief, or a murderer, or married? Hezekiah replies to all of these in the negative, but just says Tea Cake doesn't have any money and isn't good enough for Janie.

The next night when she gets home, Tea Cake is waiting on the porch with fresh-caught fish. They eat and Tea Cake plays the piano; Janie becomes drowsy, and when she wakes up, Tea Cake is combing her hair. She asks where he got the comb; he says he brought it along, as he'd made up his mind to touch her hair that night. She asks why he would want to comb her hair, as it makes her feel good, not him. He says he'd been thinking about her hair all week, and it made him feel good to touch it. She jokes about how many women he does this for and he replies ambiguously. A little scared, she says she's going to bed, and implies perhaps he wants to be with someone else. Tea Cake is hurt and tells her so; she says she believes he's having a good time with her, but she's not sure if he's serious - after all, she's twelve years older. He says he's thought about that too, but he's just so happy to be around her. She asks what other people will think; he argues it doesn't matter. He says he thinks the discussion has gone as far as it could that night, and leaves.

All the next day Janie thinks about him; she finds him very attractive. He doesn't appear that night and she's really disappointed. But the next morning he's knocking at the door. He tells her he wanted to get there early to tell her his "daytime" thoughts, because she had been skeptical that the way he acted in the evening was for real. She offers to fix breakfast, but he has to run off to work. When she gets home in the evening, he's on the porch, pretending to sleep. When she walks over to him, he pulls her into his arms. They have dinner together, and then spend the night together.

He has to leave early to get to his job, but Janie stays in bed a long time; she's euphoric and clearly has had a wonderful night. But later in the day, she begins to doubt. She doesn't see him for four days, and by then is a wreck worrying if she'd been taken advantage of. He shows up in a borrowed car and announces they're going shopping for the big town picnic coming up; this statement includes, of course, an implicit invitation for them to go to this event together. Janie double-checks - is it really her he wants to go with? Tea Cake answers emphatically: "You got de keys to de kingdom."

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20


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