Character Role Analysis
Pheoby’s sole purpose in Hurston’s narrative is to act as a confidante for Janie, a sympathetic ear into which Janie can pour out her true feelings. Pheoby also acts as the one legitimate voice of reason, presenting all of society’s norms not in a pejorative, critical light, but as they were meant to be—rational prescriptions to keep women out of danger.
That Janie trusts Pheoby to listen to her whole story and withhold judgment shows how much Janie values her friendship. We, as readers, are invited to fill Pheoby’s shoes as both listener of and sympathizer with Janie.