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The years took all the fight out of Janie’s face. For a while she thought it was gone from her soul. No matter what Jody did, she said nothing. She had learned how to talk some and leave some. She was a rut in the road. Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels. Sometimes she stuck out into the future, imagining her life different from what it was. But mostly she lived between her hat and her heels, with her emotional disturbances like shade patterns in the woods – come and gone with the sun. She got nothing from Jody except what money could guy, and she was giving away what she didn’t value. (7.1)
Janie’s loss of innocence results in a silencing of her voice. Her imagination – her projection of a better future – is the only thing that keeps her from growing incurably bitter and cynical. She does, however, see the marriage now for what it is – an economic system of exchange in which Joe gives her material goods that do not touch her emotionally, and she responds in kind.
Then one day she sat and watched the shadow of herself going about tending store and prostrating itself before Jody, while all the time she herself sat under a shady tree with the wind blowing through her hair and her clothes. Somebody near about making summertime out of lonesomeness.
This was the first time it happened, but after a while it got so common she ceased to be surprised. It was like a drug. In a way it was good because it reconciled her to things. She got so she received all things with the stolidness of the earth which soaks up urine and perfume with the same indifference. (7.5-6)
In the awful situation that Janie is living in, she seems to protect a degree of her innocence by imagining herself in nature and away from her husband and daily life. This seems to preserve some of her natural purity and innocence, which she later taps into during her marriage with Tea Cake.
[Janie]: "Maybe he ain’t nothin’," she cautioned herself, "but he is something in my mouth. He’s got tuh be else Ah ain’t got nothin’ tuh live for. Ah’ll lie and say he is. If Ah don’t, life won’t be nothin’ but uh store and uh house." (7.3)
Janie deludes herself into thinking that Joe still deserves her love because the alternative would mean being trapped in nothing but "uh store and uh house." Janie cannot imagine a life of such confinement, utterly stripped of meaning and purpose. In reality, Janie’s life is confined to a store, house, and a loveless marriage.