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The likely purpose of the scene between Phoeby and Sam is
to provide insight on the town gossip about Janie.
to show how Phoeby will support Janie no matter what.
to show that Sam is judgmental of Phoeby and foreshadow future trouble between him and Phoeby.
to explain Janie's other romantic options.
to show how Janie is guilty of wasting all of Joe's money on Tea Cake.