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Hunting, Dressing and Cooking Wild Game

Hunting Rabbit illustration, 1904 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress) 
Guest blogger Raquel Safdie 

In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, the protagonist Janie searches for emotional liberation. Her first two husbands disrespect her and attempt to restrict her agency and desires. In the last third of the novel the now widowed protagonist meets Tea Cake. This  younger rambling man courts her and encourages her to express herself and enjoy all that life has to offer something her former husbands never did.  One day, Tea Cake decides to teach her how to hunt which excites Janie. He says, “less buy us some shootin' tools and go huntin round here.” Janie responds, “Dat would be fine, Tea Cake, exceptin' you know Ah can't shoot. But Ah'd love tuh go wid you.” Tea Cakes, says Oh, you needs tuh learn how. 'Tain't no need uh you not knowin' how tuh handle shootin' tools.” Hurston, writes, “Every day they were practicing. Tea Cake made her shoot at little things just to give her good aim. Pistol and shot gun rifle,” and “Janie caught on” and soon she had the skill to hunt and dress wild game like rabbit, coon, possum, and gator for cooking and eating with Tea Cake.

Raquel Safdie is a Babson College undergrad in Professor Opie’s course Food and the African American Canon

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