Another literary device that Hurston uses in the novel is free indirect discourse. This form of discourse involves both the narrator's speech and the characters' speech or thoughts. Free indirect discourse is a common aspect of Modernist literature, which broke from the nineteenth-century convention of a strong third-person narrative voice that controlled the reader's every bit of understanding about the characters.
There are parts of the novel in which Hurston slips in and out of characters' perspectives. Though she always maintains the voice of a third-person omniscient narrator, there are moments in which she aligns directly with Janie's perspective, as if she were writing in first person. This occurs, for example, the moment Janie realizes that she's no longer in love with her husband, Joe Starks. Hurston narrates, "Something fell off the shelf inside her." Ironically, Janie is also in the store that she and her husband manage together when she has this thought. She's connecting her physical experience of arranging objects with her internal sense that someone has gone awry.