Joe is from Georgia, and he is a man with high ambitions. He heads out to Eatonville, Florida, because he has heard that the city will be run by Blacks, and he intends to become a big influence there. Janie meets Joe as he passes through her town on the road to Eatonville. A stylish man, Joe charms Janie, and the two strike up a relationship, even though Janie is married to Logan. After only a week, Joe proposes to Janie and offers to take her to Eatonville with him.
In Janie's life, Joe is representative of "change and chance". The life he offers her is appealing because it appears to have so many more possiblities than the drab life she lives. Also, to Janey, the option of going with Joe is tantilizing because if she chooses him, she will be doing so out of her own free will. Janey longs for romance in her life, but is stuck in her small town with Logan, whom she does not love and was forced to marry against her will.
Although life with Joe appears to be alluring, once Janie is married to him she discovers that her situation might be even worse than it was before. Joe is controlling, and completely stifles Janie's development. As he rises in the world, he begins to measure his own worth by his possessions, the most valuable of which is his wife.