The front porch of Joe Starks' crossroads store is the gathering place for many of the men and women of Eatonville. There they sit or lean against the railing, sipping soft drinks, eating cheese and soda crackers, talking, and talking. When their day's work is over, that's one way to pass the time. The porch sitters at the store are most likely to be men. The women usually gather on the porch of someone's home, maybe Pheoby Watson's, to gossip. Their excuse to be on the store porch may be to play checkers or to watch a game of checkers being played. The real reason, of course, is to talk and tease.
Having created this group, Hurston gives them names, and they have dignified family names, not colorful, exotic names like the men on the muck. As individuals, with the exceptions of Sam and Pheoby, they are not significant characters. As a group, they may be seen as functioning as a sort of chorus. They serve as modern commentators giving their own interpretations to the actions of the main characters and providing an interlude, as in the mule story.