Because they didn't love Janie as much as they had loved Tea Cake, and because they wanted to think well of themselves, they blame it all on Mrs. Turner's brother and run him off the muck again. They beg Janie to stay on, and she stays a few weeks to keep them from feeling bad. But being there only reminds her of Tea Cake and she sets off for home.
Here the novel finally returns to the present moment, where Janie is soaking her feet in a pan of water and talking to Pheoby. She tells her she's back home and satisfied to be there. Janie says she doesn't care what all the porch-sitters think, because she's experienced love, and "Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore." Pheoby replies, "Ah done growed ten feet higher from jus' listenin' tuh you, Janie." Janie again says that gossip doesn't matter in the long run, and the only way to know things is to experience them. Pheoby hugs Janie really hard and leaves out into the night.
Janie shuts and fastens everything downstairs, and heads up to bed. She thinks over again everything that's happened, and she feels Tea Cake still around her, and realizes he's not really dead; he'll always be with her: "The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pullit from around the waist of her world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called her soul to come and see."
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