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Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 6

What is the deal with the mule? Why is it featured so prominently?
by

Lindsay Green

on 23 January 2013

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Transcript of Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 6

The Mule
in Chapter 6 The mule = Janie Etymology “mulatto” racist term describing the offspring of one black parent and one white parent derived from the Spanish word “mulatto” meaning a young mule. Nanny in Chapter 2 “De nigger woman is de mule uh de
world so fur as Ah can see” (14). The mule, a sterile offspring of a mare and a male donkey, is an important metaphor in early African American literature and folklore. Logan
Janie is forced to marry without her consent. He works her like a mule in the field. Joe Treats Janie as property and marries her as a status symbol. He buys Matt Bonner's mule and doesn't use it, again as a status symbol. Mule = Community "mule talk" brings the Eatonville townspeople together. It represents a strong tradition of oral communication in southern African American communities. When you read the stories about Matt Bonner and his mule, you get a strong sense of how this community socializes. There is an intimacy between neighbors that is clear in the way they speak with each other. Notice how
Joe does not contribute to
the "mule talk" and forbids
Janie from doing so.

What does this indicate about Joe's intimacy with the Eatonville community? The Mule's Funeral Because of the stories and antics of Matt Bonner's mule, it has become a legend in Eatonville and very much a part of the community. When it dies, the community celebrates its contribution to their way of life with humor. It provides yet another opportunity to bond as a community. How does Janie react to
the mule's mistreatment? Think of it like
a jazz funeral. How does Janie feel when Joe keeps her from attending the funeral? How does this reinforce the Janie - mule connection?
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