After that day, nothing was ever the same again. Jody moves his things and sleeps in a room downstairs. He doesn't really hate Janie, but he wants her to think so. She doesn't quite understand why he is so upset - he had been insulting her that way for years: why is this so different?
Joe seems to age even more rapidly now. And he becomes friends with new people, people he never would have associated with before. He even starts consulting with a root-doctor from a neighboring town, as it becomes clear he is ill. Janie is worried, and makes him some soup, which he rejects. He implies the soup might hurt more than help.
Janie goes to see Pheoby. She is deeply hurt Jody would think she would hurt him. Pheoby tells her she thought the problem might solve itself, but actually it's all from that day in the store when she publicly talked back to Joe, and there is no longer anything she can do about it.
Joe becomes so ill he never leaves his bed. People come and go from the house, but he refuses to admit Janie to his room. When she realizes how ill he is, she calls a doctor form Orlando to come and look at Joe, and the doctor tells her it's just a matter of time. Janie begins to think of death, and doesn't want Joe to face it alone, but he still won't see her. One day, people begin to gather outside the house, and it's clear Joe's day has come. Janie is determined to see him. She tells him they will talk whether he wants to or not. Joe tells her she's been a terrible wife, and only scorned him. She responds that he never allowed her to give him any sympathy. Sure, he says, blame me. Janie says, "'Tain't dat, Jody. Ah ain't here tuh blame nobody. Ah'm just tryin' tuh make you know what kinda person Ah is befo' it's too late." At this moment, Joe suddenly realizes he's dying. But in this last moment, she refuses to be quiet. She tells him he was never happy with her the way she was; his whole life, he was only interested in listening to his own big voice. Joe raises his voice to send her from the room and the effort literally kills him. She sits there another moment, pitying Joe - maybe if she had tried harder? But then her thoughts turn to herself and all the dreams she had when she was young. She gets up and looks in the mirror; she is no longer a girl, but a handsome woman is in her place. She tore off her headwrap and let down her beautiful hair. She admires it; then she combs it out, puts it back up, sets her face for the world and goes to the window to tell the town Joe is dead.
Browse all book notes|
Points to Ponder
Did You Know