Vergible Tea Cake" Woods" (2024)

Character Analysis Vergible Tea Cake" Woods"

Tea Cake comes strolling into Eatonville hoping to watch a baseball game. Instead, he finds the widow Janie Starks minding her store while just about everyone else in town has left to go to the ballgame. He arrives a happy man, and his happiness attracts Janie. That is all author Hurston, with her tendency to shortchange her readers about the physical descriptions of her characters, tells us. He is some 12 years younger than Janie.

Tea Cake, having appeared from nowhere and seeming to have no visible means of support, worries the porch sitters because they are sure he is after Janie's money. He is just as independent as Joe Starks, but he doesn't seem interested in building towns or stores or acquiring possessions. He makes it clear to Janie, though, that he will work and take care of her. Cautiously, but excited by his presence, Janie accepts his courtship.

Courtship is part of the music of Tea Cake's life. Tea Cake treats Janie like a special person, not because she still carries with her that aura of class, but because some masculine instinct tells him that if he wants her, he will have to woo her. Tea Cake has the personality to make Janie think that maybe this man might give her the sort of love for which she has been waiting.

Tea Cake leads Janie to discover things about herself she never knew in her years with Nanny, Logan, or Joe. He teaches her how to play checkers, how to handle guns, and how to shoot. They go on picnics, much to the dismay of the porch sitters, who resent his intrusion on Janie's mandatory mourning period. He listens to Janie's opinions, helps her in the store, and plays his guitar for her. The porch sitters' gossip, but they don't challenge him.

Tea Cake's pride comes from self-confidence, just as did Joe's. Tea Cake knows he is a good gambler. He knows he is a competent worker on the muck. He knows he can provide for his wife, and he knows that he will be faithful to her. He is, in an unassuming way, a leader among the migrants on the muck. Unlike Joe, Tea Cake's self-confidence is not combined with ambition; unlike Joe, he can openly express his love for Janie. He is able to give her the dream of love that Joe Starks never understood.

Even Tea Cake's death contrasts with Joe's. Tea Cake's heroism on the muck while they try to outrun the hurricane ultimately led to his demise. Joe, however, endured a slow, painful death. His death was not valiant like Tea Cake's. Hurston presents Tea Cake as the hero, the man with whom the reader sympathizes.

Vergible Tea Cake" Woods" (2024)


Vergible Tea Cake" Woods"? ›

Vergible Woods, known as Tea Cake, is the third husband of Janie Crawford

Janie Crawford
The protagonist of Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Janie Crawford is sixteen years old when, lying beneath a pear tree, she experiences a sexual and spiritual awakening. › display › authority.20110...
, the protagonist of Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).

Why do people call Vergible Woods Tea Cake? ›

Answer: In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Tea Cake is called Tea Cake because people couldn't easily say his real name, which is Vergible Woods. The nickname also reflects how sweet Janie finds him.

Who is Tea Cake in their eyes were watching God? ›

Tea Cake is Janie's last husband, who treats her as more of an equal than Killicks and Starks did, by talking to her and playing checkers with her. Despite this, Tea Cake does hit Janie to show his possession over her. Thus, Janie's life seems defined by her relation to domineering males.

How does Tea Cake manipulate Janie? ›

Tea Cake has the personality to make Janie think that maybe this man might give her the sort of love for which she has been waiting. Tea Cake leads Janie to discover things about herself she never knew in her years with Nanny, Logan, or Joe. He teaches her how to play checkers, how to handle guns, and how to shoot.

Why is Janie attracted to Tea Cake? ›

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.

What is the pear tree in their eyes were watching God? ›

What Does the Pear Tree Symbolize? The pear tree symbolizes Janie's primal passions, along with her desire for love and intimacy. Janie is blossoming into a young, beautiful woman, much like the pear tree that blooms when she first retreats beneath its branches.

Why is tea cake's last name Woods? ›

This coheres to Hurston's use of name significance as the name Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods can easily be interpreted to mean virgin woods. Unlike log killer, virgin woods coincides with Janie's passion for trees and nature.

Did Tea Cake actually hit Janie? ›

Turner brings her brother to meet Janie, Tea Cake decides to beat Janie to show Mrs. Turner who is the boss. Janie accepts the punishment even though she hasn't don't anything wrong, and then Tea Cake takes care of her injuries. Both men and women in the community see that what Janie and Tea Cake has is special.

Why was Tea Cake bad for Janie? ›

He steals the money she hides from him, spends it entertaining other women, and gambles in an illegal and dangerous dice game to get it back for her. Tea Cake's principal concern is for himself, and he often disguises his selfishness under the guise of love for Janie.

Was Tea Cake Janie's true love? ›

It is at this point that Janie's "soul crawled out from its hiding place." Janie is no longer controlled by a domineering husband or an overprotective grandmother. Finally, she has found true love for the first time with Tea Cake.

What is the age difference between Janie and Tea Cake? ›

Janie is in her late thirties when she meets Vergible 'Tea Cake' Woods. He is around 12 years younger than Janie. This means that he is approximately 24 to 27 years old.

Why did Tea Cake steal Janie's money? ›

Tea Cake's decision to steal Janie's money is not malicious, but a testament to his completely untraditional approach to life – he prioritizes spontaneous play over anything serious, and seldom thinks ahead.

What does Tea Cake's death symbolize? ›

The moment of Tea Cake's death, though horrible for Janie to endure, reflects how much she has grown as a person and how secure she has become. Although Tea Cake means everything to her, she is able to kill him to save herself.

What happened to Tea Cake at the end? ›

Tea Cake falls forward and buries his teeth in Janie's forearm, as she catches him. Later, Janie must endure a brief trial, but she is freed. Afterward, she must arrange his funeral. She gives Tea Cake a glorious send-off, burying him in Palm Beach.

What secret does Janie keep from Tea Cake? ›

Tea Cake was spending and doing out of his own pocket, so Janie never told him about the two hundred dollars she had pinned inside her shirt next to her skin. Pheoby had insisted that she bring it along and keep it secret just to be on the safe side.

What does Janie's hair symbolize? ›

Hair. Janie's hair is a symbol of her power and unconventional identity; it represents her strength and individuality in three ways. First, it represents her independence and defiance of petty community standards.

How does Tea Cake refer to the Everglades? ›

Tea Cake announces that she will never have to touch it, that he will provide for her, and that they will leave for “the muck” (the Everglades), where he will get work.

What is another name for Tea Cake? ›

Although they are widely known, tea cakes have not always gone by this name. They are referred to as currant buns or spiced buns in some regions of the UK.

Why are they called tea cakes? ›

Tea cakes originated in Britain and were served, as the name implies, with afternoon tea. But in the South, the cookies evolved into a special snack. In some families they were served only on holidays.

What is the meaning of the word vergible? ›

Vergible - Detailed Meaning. The name of Vergible creates a shrewd and aggressive business nature intent on personal gain. As a result of an ability to be logical and analytical in financial matters, your judgment in business decisions is rarely swayed through your feelings or opposing arguments.


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