from the book their eyes were watching god chapter 1
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In Chapter One, we learn that porches are the usual place for community assembly, and are also the only place where people can truly feel human: all day the people feel like "mules and brutes have occupied their skins." But only on the porches, at the end of the day, do their skins feel "powerful and human." The porch is also the setting of Janie's revelations to Phoebe.