It was early in the afternoon when they got there, so Joe said they must walk over the place and look around. They locked arms and strolled from end to end of the town. Joe noted the scant dozen of shame-faced houses scattered in the sand and palmetto roots and said, “God, they call this a town? Why, ‘tain’t nothing but a raw place in de woods.”
“A whole heap uh men seen the same thing you seen but they got better sense than you. You oughta know that you can’t take no ‘oman lak dat from no man lak him. A man dat up and buys two hundred acres uh land at one whack and pays cash for it.”
Before the store had a complete roof, Jody had canned goods piled on the floor and was selling so much he didn’t have time to go off on his talking tours. She had her first taste of presiding over it the day it was complete and finished. Jody told her to dress up and stand in the store all that evening…. [H]e didn’t mean for nobody else’s wife to rank with her. She must look on herself as the bell-cow, and the other women were the gang.
Janie soon began to feel the impact of awe and envy against her sensibilities. The wife of the Mayor was not just another woman as she had supposed. She slept with authority and so she was part of it in the town mind. She couldn’t get but so close to most of them in spirit. It was especially noticeable after Joe had forced through a town ditch to drain the street in front of the store. They had murmured hotly about slavery being over, but every man filled his assignment.
“She sho don’t talk much. De way he rears and pitches in the store sometimes when she make uh mistake is sort of ungodly, but she don’t seem to mind at all. Reckon dey understand one ‘nother.” The town had a basketful of feelings good and bad about Joe’s positions and possessions, but none had the temerity to challenge him. They bowed down to him rather, because he was all of these things, and then again he was all of these things because the town bowed down.