Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Janie experiences romantic jealousy for the first time in her marriage with Tea Cake: she finds "a little seed of fear…growing into a tree" as she witnesses a young, plump girl named Nunkie play with Tea Cake in the fields as they work. One day, as they are all working, fellow laborer Sop-de-Bottom asks Janie where Tea Cake is. In response, Tea Cake waves his hands from a low point on the ground, five rows away from them. When Janie approaches Tea Cake, she finds him on the ground, playfully wrestling with Nunkie.
Once again, Tea Cake's poor judgment in his mistreatment of Janie emerges not from an active desire to hurt her, but from prioritizing fun so much as to show a clear disregard for traditional social norms. Janie's need for monogamy with Tea Cake indicates that she expects equality in all facets of their relationship, and is willing to appear controlling in order to ensure that her husband is faithful.
Themes
Gender Roles and Relations Theme Icon
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon
After screaming, separating Tea Cake and Nunkie, and attempting to harm Nunkie physically, Janie and Tea Cake return home, where Janie expresses her fury to Tea Cake regarding his supposed infidelity. Instead of engaging Janie in a thoughtful discussion about her feelings and his actions, Tea Cake wrestles her to the ground and instead comforts her with the physical fulfillment of sex. Afterward, Janie makes Tea Cake tell her that he does not love Nunkie, which he says.
Tea Cake's decision to console Janie (successfully) through physical pleasure speaks to the fact that the foundation of their relationship in general is one built on mutual passion and sexual desire – and that Tea Cake uses his physicality to exert power over Janie. That said, Janie demands Tea Cake to promise verbally that he does not love Nunkie, indicating her further attachment to language and expression as a means to find truth. Each of them is controller the other, in their own different ways.
Themes
Voice, Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Desire, Love, and Independence Theme Icon
Power, Judgment, and Jealousy Theme Icon