Summary and Analysis Chapter 12



The townsfolk become indignant when Janie, whom they consider to be Mrs. Mayor Starks, appears at a Sunday School picnic with Tea Cake. They become even more upset when Tea Cake and Janie begin to hunt, fish, dance, go to the movies, and seem to act like they are married.

One night, Pheoby and Sam Watson discuss the romance, and Sam sends Pheoby off to talk to Janie. Janie listens to her friend, but Pheoby's advice and caution are too late. Tea Cake is an independent and reliable man, and he is not after her money, Janie explains. She plans to live her life as she wants to live it, no longer following Nanny's wishes or Joe's control. Pheoby hints a bit of envy as she warns her friend about the risks of marrying Tea Cake.


The theme of judgment returns in this chapter. Once again, the townspeople judge Janie. They believe that Joe has not been dead long enough for Janie to be involved with another man. They criticize her appearance and her actions, as well as her association with Tea Cake.

Finally, Janie is able to exercise her independence. She can make her own decisions; no one else will make them for her. More than anything, Janie wants to start anew. As she explains to Pheoby, "Ah done lived Grandma's way, now Ah means tuh live mine."

In this chapter, Pheoby proves herself to be a true friend to Janie. Like most of the townspeople, she fears that Tea Cake is after Janie's money. Pheoby approaches Janie and offers her friend advice, rather than gossip about her as the townspeople do. She is genuinely concerned about Janie's happiness.


sense her into things Sam Watson wants Pheoby to talk some common sense into Janie.

class off act better than other people, show off.

He ain't got uh dime tuh cry The townspeople are sure that Tea Cake has no money. Janie, however, knows he works and always pays their way.