The years between Joe's eighteenth year and the time when he appears in Jefferson are covered rather rapidly and we learn only that he has wandered about the country in ever widening circles. He is thirty-three when he appears in Jefferson, symbolically, the age of Christ when He was crucified.
Again, the reader should be aware of Joe's sense of the order of things. To each prostitute during his years on the road, he would confess that he was a Negro. The confession always brought one reaction. When this pattern of behavior is broken by the prostitute who did not care whether or not he was a Negro, his reactions are violent, and he beats her relentlessly, and he becomes sick afterward. Thus Joe's violent outburst comes from the unconscious desire to punish the dietitian who had first violated his pattern of order.
As with the dietitian, the Negro girl, and Bobbie Allen, Joe's first meeting with Joanna Burden is also amid sensory odors and connected with food. He is actually eating his stolen food when Joanna appears and tells him he will find sufficient amounts of food.