in chapter 1
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Janie has just returned home after a six-year estrangment from the town. The people of the town come onto their porches and sit in judgment on Janie as she walks through town,
These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.