The years connecting Joe’s eighteenth year and the time when he emerges in Jefferson are covered somewhat quickly. We gain knowledge that he has rambler about the country in ever-expanding circles. He is thirty-three when he shows up in Jefferson, symbolically, the age of Christ when He was crucified.
The reader should be conscious of Joe’s sense of the order of things. To each prostitute during his years on the road, he would admit that he was a Negro. The confession always brought one response. When this model of behavior is broken by the prostitute who did not care whether or not he was a Negro, his reactions are violent. He beats her unremittingly. He becomes sick afterward. Joe’s brutal flare-ups comes from the unconscious wish to castigate 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 in the midst of sensory odors and connected with food. He is actually eating his stolen food when Joanna appears and tells him where he will find plenty of food.