Summary and Analysis
Just about everyone in town has gone to a baseball game when Mr. Vergible Woods, better known as Tea Cake, arrives at Janie's store. He discovers that he has come to the wrong town for the baseball game, but he stays to visit with Janie. He is a tall, smiling, happy young man who quickly makes Janie laugh. He invites her to play checkers and is astounded when she tells him that she doesn't know the game. He teaches her how to play. Then, Tea Cake walks Janie home.
The character of Vergible Woods, also known as Tea Cake, is introduced in Chapter 10. Tea Cake is a happy and attractive man, although he is 12 years younger than Janie. She is instantly attracted to his "full, lazy eyes, with the lashes curling sharply away like drawn scimitars. The lean, over-padded shoulders and narrow waist." With Tea Cake's arrival, Janie's loneliness seems to disappear, and she enjoys herself for the first time in a long time. Even after only visiting with Tea Cake for a short period of time, Janie feels like she has known Tea Cake all of her life.
Tea Cake brings excitement and new experiences to Janie's life, starting with the game of checkers. Joe forbid Janie to play the game with him or with other men, probably because that was another way he could exert his power and control over Janie. In addition, Joe would not want Janie to associate with the men of the town, since he would consider them a threat to his marriage with Janie. For Janie, this meeting with Tea Cake is truly just the beginning of her personal freedom and the new experiences that Tea Cake will offer her.
kitchen matches These were a type of common household matches made for years by, among others, the Ohio Match Company. They were about two-and-a-half to three inches long and were sold in a box, the side of which contained a strip of abrasive-like fine sandpaper. The abrasive contained the chemicals needed to ignite the match when it was briskly scraped across the surface. Before electric stoves and gas stoves with the automatic pilot lights, no kitchen was complete without a box of these matches. Many campers still include them in their equipment.
cold-cocked her a look looked her straight in the eyes.
Dixie Highway U.S. Highway 1, the major Maine-to-Florida highway in the old U.S. highway system.
Ah done cut a hawg I've made a mistake. Tea Cake thinks that perhaps he has said something he shouldn't have said.