As the years go by, Janie becomes unhappier and more depressed about her situation. She even thinks of running away, but where would she go? Sometimes she feels outside herself, like there are two Janies: the Janie who bows down to Joe and the Janie who sits under a shady tree far away. One day she notices that Joe is getting old. He looks different; he doesn't move as well; parts of his body sag. And Jody must have noticed it too; but instead of acknowledging this, he turns on Janie and criticizes her appearance, saying she had aged badly. The more his back ached, the more he criticized Janie. One day Janie is cutting some chewing tobacco for a customer and she cuts it wrong. The man brings it to Joe's attention, in a joking and lighthearted way, but Joe reacts viciously: "I got amighty! A woman stay round uh store till she get old as Methusalem and still can't cut a little thing like a plug of tobacco! Don't stand dere rollin' yo' pop eyes at me wid yo' rump hangin' nearly to yo' knees!"
Everyone starts to laugh and then stops, because they realize how cruel it is. Janie tells Jody to stop mixing up her "doings" with her looks because they weren't related. Joe is furious she's talked back to him; she reminds him he was the one "talking under people's clothes." He reminds her again how old she is; she reminds him he's older than she is: "Humph! Talkin' 'bout me lookin' old! When you pull down yo' britches, you look lak de change uh life." The on-lookers revel in this virtuoso put-down and Joe is rightly humiliated. She had done the worst thing a woman could do to a man. Joe did all that he could do - he hit Janie as hard as he could and drove her from the store.
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