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Free Study Guide-Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston-Free
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Chapter 20

Summary

The people of the muck blame Mrs. Turner's brother for cursing Tea Cake and run him off the muck again. After two days, they forget the whole thing. Janie stays a few weeks, but the muck only reminds her of Tea Cake; she cannot stay. She gives away all the things in her little house, except a package of seeds that Tea Cake had wanted to plant. She will plant them back in Eatonville.

Back on her porch with Pheoby, Janie takes her feet out of the water and dries them. She says that she is glad to be home and that the house does not seem so empty as it used to be. She has been to the horizon and back, and now her life is filled with memories. She tells Pheoby how love is different for different people: it takes its shape from the shore, different with every shore. Janie then gives Pheoby permission to tell her story to the curious townspeople; she has nothing to hide.

"Ah done growed ten feet higher from jus' listenin' tuh you," Pheoby tells Janie. She is going to make Sam take her fishing, and she will not let anybody tear down Janie. Janie answers that people are just ignorant, and their talk is absent of understanding. She explains that "you got tuh go there tuh know there." Everyone must find out about living for themselves.


The two friends are quiet. Pheoby wants to go home, and Janie wants to go to bed. They hug, and Phoeby leaves. Janie gets her lamp and climbs the stairs to her bedroom. She closes the window and brushes out her hair, thinking of the day of the shooting and the trial. Then memories of Tea Cake come prancing about. Tea Cake is not dead; while Janie is alive he will live too. She feels suddenly at peace; she pulls in the horizon like a fishnet and drapes it on her shoulders. "So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see."

Notes

This last short chapter comes back to Janie and Pheoby on the porch and gives the final details of Janie's return to Eatonville. She has returned to her own place, as her own woman, with her own memories to guide and comfort her. She has come back a wiser person, and although grieving she is strong. She will keep Tea Cake alive to keep her company. The last lines of the book make it clear that Janie is taking flight into the next stage of her life, joyfully.

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