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Chapter 4

Before the year is up, Janie notices that her husband no longer worshiped her or her beauty. Six months in, he tells her that since his first wife both chopped and hauled wood inside the farmhouse, she could at least carry it inside. Janie tells him if he wants to make his own dinner, she'll help with the wood; he relents.

One morning he asks her to cut up a bunch of seed potatoes and informs her he's going to another town to see about buying a mule. Logan heads off. Since it's nice outside, Janie goes to sit by the side of the road to work on the potatoes.

She'd been sitting there a long while when a man dressed in pretty flashy clothes comes down the road. She notes that although he was black - and pretty dark-skinned at that - he acts like Mr. Washburn, her grandmother's former employer. She's interested to find out more about him, so she rushes over to the water pump, which makes a loud sound when she uses it. She achieves her desired effect, because the man looks over and then asks her for a drink.

It turns out his name is Joe (also "Jody" later in the story) Starks. He's from Georgia, and has worked for white folks his whole life, but he'd heard that in Florida they were starting a town made up only of "colored folk" and he wanted to see what it was all about. He'd saved up a good deal of money - $300 - and was on his way down there. He asks where Janie's parents were.

She tells him her parents and her grandmother are dead, and in fact, she's married. He's really surprised because she's so young; he then asks where her husband his. She tells him Logan went off to see about a mule and left her to work on the potatoes. Joe expresses indignation that someone as pretty and young as her is left to do farming chores. Janie offers him some cane syrup as a treat; they sit under a tree and talk, and he decides to put off his journey to the new part of Florida.

Every day after that they meet under the scrub oaks across the road and talk about when "he would be the big ruler of things with her reaping the benefits." She still won't commit to run away with him, because he doesn't completely fulfill her fantasy of the pear tree, but he does "speak for change and chance." She also worries about what Nanny would think. But then Joe promises to marry her; he says if she wants to run away with him, she needs to be on the road right after sunrise the next day.

That night in bed, Janie tells Logan she's been thinking about their marriage. He responds by telling her she should be grateful to have him, because of her questionable origins. She asks him what he would do if she left him. Logan is scared and hurt at this question, but instead of answering honestly, decides to say something that will hurt her back: he tells her no one else would want her. The next morning, she is halfway done making breakfast when Logan yells from the barn, and asks for her help in moving a big pile of manure. They argue again about whose job it was to do what, and Logan argues she doesn't want him because he's too honest and hard-working, implying her family was less than that. Janie has had enough. She walks out the door and meets Joe on the road. She takes the apron from her waist and flings it into the bushes. Joe is waiting in a hired rig. They were married before sundown, with Janie wearing the new, expensive clothes Joe has bought her.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20


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