Collectively, the people of Eatonville create the framework through which Janie's story is told. When she first returns, she is greeted with hostility, gossip, and jealousy. Many of the citizens, especially the men, don't like Janie because of her relationship with Jody, & the way in which she broke him down at the end. This community is used to seeing her as Joe's property, & the fact that she ran off with a man half her age doesn't help her reputation. In fact, the women in the town hate her & envy her for her looks and her opportunities. As a society, Eatonville represents everything Janie was struggling to escape throughout her life.
The only person in Eatonville whom Janie trusts is Pheobe, her "bosom friend." Phoebe listens to Janie's story and serves as her confidant, her link to the small-hearted characters of the town. After hearing Janie's story, Phoebe says "Ah done growed ten feet higher from jus' listenin' tuh you." So there is somone who recognizes Janie's abilities ad rights as a human, instead of a woman. Janie's story can inspire others to seek their own freedom and identity.