The years being married to Jody take "all the fight out of Janie's face," as she spends them ignoring her emotions and learning to submit herself to Jody's insatiable desire for control and power. She becomes remarkably stoic in response to his abuse, almost as if she is able to detach her body from her soul.
Janie's stoic attitude toward the abuse and stifling she receives from Jody indicates a sense of deliberateness and self-control. Even though Janie remains in a passive position in relation to Jody, she has gained self-awareness and continues to grow toward a more dramatic recognition of her own independence.
During this time, Jody has aged a great deal, such that Janie even describes there being "something dead about him." As Jody loses the ability to sit down and eventually to walk normally, he nevertheless retains his ability to be cruel to Janie, telling her that she is an "ole hen." In response to Jody's repeated insults about Janie's looks, Janie remains silent, as she is able to see instead the extent to which he feels terrible and insecure in himself.
The sudden deterioration of Jody's body is what brings about his sudden focus on Janie's old age. This pattern makes clear what had been implicitly clear all along: Jody's search for power emerges from his own insecurity, such that his desire for power grows more desperate as his insecurity grows more intense.
Jody grows increasingly rude and intolerable as his health worsens. Jody's insults reach an all-time high one day when Janie is helping a customer at the store: she makes a mistake preparing tobacco for a customer, and Jody does not simply berate her for her incompetence as a woman and as a salesperson, but also for her bad looks and old age. Instead of remaining silent as per usual, Janie tells Jody that all he has anymore is his "big voice," and that when undressed, he looks "lak de change uh life." Completely stunned by Janie's willingness to fight back, Jody hits Janie "with all his might" in front of everyone in the store.
The direct relationship between Jody's worsening health and the intensity of his insults further drives home the connection between Jody's desire for power and his insecurity. Janie's response to Jody's public humiliation of her does not indicate a sudden and new desire to stand up for herself, but rather the result of many years of remaining silent. In response to Janie's newly arrived ability to express herself and take a stand, Jody uses his physical strength as a last resort to exert control over Janie, now realizing that he lacks not only his health, but his ability to silence his wife.