Nanny is an important person in the first couple chapters of this novel. She holds the secret of Janie's past which up to chapter three had just been hinted at. The first characteristic of nanny that Hurston portrays to the reader is her kindness. On page 12 she writes "Her eyes didn't bore and pierce. They diffused and melted Janie, the room, and the world into one comprehension." I read this line and believe that nanny had kind eyes which show her love for Janie and refuse to harden even when she is angry or disappointed.
Then Hurston uses Nanny to reveal Janie's past. Through this account we learn of Nanny's sedulous personality as she ran away from slavery. Even though she was afraid she ran until she learned that the slaves were free after the civil war. After nanny proves her love for her child and then grandchild by ignoring her pride and working as a nanny for a white family. This is significant because after the civil war many black refused to work for whites because they were afraid it exemplified slavery.
Nanny is only in this novel for a couple of chapters and remains a flat character. However with her narration the reader learns of Janie's past and her upbringing both important to the continuation of the novel. While Nanny remains a flat character her account helps Janie grow as a dynamic one.