Janie Crawford returns to Eatonville, and her old friends want to know where she's been. She's now in her 40's, and she's been married three times. She tells her story to her friend Pheoby.
Janie find happiness with Tea Cake in their marriage, despite an initial rocky start. However, disaster strikes a hurricane that forces the evacuation of the Everglades. Janie falls in water and as Tea Cake tries to save her he gets bit by a rabid dog.
Janie and Tea Cake return to the Everglades to help with the post-hurricane cleanup. Tea Cake falls ill a few weeks later, refusing to eat or drink. The doctors diagnoess him with rabies. Tea Cake finds out that Mrs. Turner's brother is back in town and Tea Cake becomes jealous and suspicious that Janie is seeing him. He pulls a pistol on her and Janie shoots him in defense.