Pheoby Watson is Janie's best friend and confidante. She sits on the porch of the store or her own home and listens to the gossipy busybodies meddling in Janie's life. They talk, both the men and the women, and Pheoby has many ways of suggesting that they don't know what they're talking about. However, it is often her husband, Sam, who tells them to be quiet.
Unlike the other women who watch the dirty and disheveled Janie return home, Pheoby is not ready with instant condemnation. Instead, she senses that Janie has a story to tell and that she's probably hungry. Pheoby wisely takes a bowl of mulatto rice to her friend, knowing for sure that Janie will talk to her. Her motive for taking food is not totally unselfish. She wants to know why Janie has come home.
Janie knows the depth of Pheoby's loyalty, and she also knows that she may explain matters to the porch sitters. However, the choice of telling or not telling and the way it will be told, if she chooses to tell it, will be left up to Pheoby. Pheoby does not show the jealousy of Janie that characterizes the other women. She is emotionally close to Janie, and they share many experiences, one of which is fishing. It is reasonable to assume that her husband, Sam, is too well established in the town for the busybodies to gossip about him or his wife. Happy with Sam and comfortable about herself, Pheoby has no reason to be jealous of anyone.
After listening to her friend's story, Pheoby understands that there can be rich experiences in the remaining years of her own marriage. She will try to open up her life with Sam, and they will do more things together.
Pheoby leaves Janie's back steps, refreshed by the story she has heard, and Janie goes into her lonely house, confident that she can trust her friend in the retelling of the story.