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There was a long dead pause. Janie was not jumping at her chance like she ought to. Look like she didn’t hardly know he [Hicks] was there. She needed waking up. (5.55)
When Janie ignores Hicks’ advances, his pride is injured. To Hicks, going unnoticed is more insulting that being outright rejected; rejection would at least be an acknowledgement that he is a man and is flirting with her.
[Joe to Janie]: "I god, Ah don’t see how come yuh can’t [run the store]. ‘Tain’t nothin’ atall tuh hinder yuh if yuh got uh thimble full uh sense. You got tuh. Ah got too much else on mah hands as Mayor. Dis town needs some light right now." (5.111)
Joe’s pride at being mayor blinds him to Janie’s needs. This is the beginning of the end for their marriage.
But the whole town got vain over it after it [the streetlight] came. That was because the Mayor didn’t just take it out of the crate and stick it up on a post. He unwrapped it and had it wiped off carefully and set a time for the lighting and sent word all around Orange County for one and all to come to the lamp lighting. He sent men out to the swamp to cut the finest and straightest cypress post they could find, and kept on sending them back to hunt another one until they found one that pleased him. (5.115)
Joe knows how to manipulate the pride of others, making them want to take pride in their town. To do this, he makes a big public celebration out of something as simple as lamp-lighting. Of course, his ultimate motive is to garner the townspeople’s admiration of him as mayor and feed his own ego.