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[The porch]: "What she doin coming back here in dem overhalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on? – Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in? – Where all dat money her husband took and died and left her? – What dat ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal? – Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid? – Thought she was going to marry? – Where he left her? – What he done wid all her money? – Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs – Why she don’t stay in her class? –" (1.6)
The gossipers’ comments make it plain that they envy Janie’s good looks that allow her to dress in overalls and let her hair loose and still look attractive. Instead of making Janie look bad, their envy makes them look like a pack of insecure women.
"She ain’t even worth talkin’ after," Lulu Moss drawled through her nose. "She sits high, but she looks low. Dat’s what Ah say ‘bout dese ole women runnin’ after young boys." (1.12)
Lulu, one of the women jealous of Janie, arms herself with hurtful words. She speaks hypocritically, claiming Janie "ain’t even worth talking after," when that is exactly what she is doing – talking about Janie.
[Pheoby]: "You know if you pass some people and don’t speak tuh suit ‘em dey got tuh go way back in yo’ life and see whut you ever done. They know mo’ ‘bout yuh than you do yo’self. An envious heart makes a treacherous ear. They done ‘heard’ ‘bout you just what they hope done happened." (1.42)
Pheoby recognizes that because Janie doesn’t make the effort to be friendly to the gossipers, they feel left out and hurt, so they look for ammunition with which to wound her. Pheoby also realizes that jealous people don’t forget anything bad about you, so they can store up dirt to use later. And for lack of real stuff to gossip about, they’ll just make it up.