Character Analysis The Migrants


In contrast to the Eatonville porch sitters who have standard names, most of Tea Cake and Janie's friends in the muck have such colorful nicknames as Stew Beef, Coodemay, and Sop-de-Bottom. After the hurricane had ravaged the area and Tea Cake and Janie return to the muck, they are relieved and surprised to discover that all of their friends, except one, survived the fury of the storm.

In contrast to the Eatonville men, who are hard workers in a stable community, the muck people are migrant farm laborers who live from day to day, crop to crop, season to season. They are as much a community as the people of Eatonville, but they spend their leisure time drinking, gambling, dancing in the jook joints (unheard of in pious Eatonville), and fighting. Living on the edge, moving around so much, life is a day-to-day affair for them. Tomorrow is the next crop, the next migrant camp.

Along with this apparent lightheartedness is a great deal of care and concern for members of their group, as is shown in the respect they have for Janie and Tea Cake and the drastic action — the staged brawl — they take against Mrs. Turner and her bigotry.