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Janie is submissive to her husband like the mule is submissive to Matt. She's afraid to step out of her place for good reason. When her husband beats her after she cooks a bad meal, she expresses no anger, hatred, or disgust. "Janie stood where he left her for [some] time and thought. She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her..." The fact that she feels so little rage makes the reader feel for Janie even more. The passage where Joe slaps Janie ends on an optimistic note: "She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen." This foreshadows the fact that Janie will meet another, better man.