Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reaction to Rachel's Post

Rachel posted about the symbolism of mules in Their Eyes Were Watching God. I agree with her perspectives as to how the mule symbolizes the poor treatment of women, how women are portrayed as property, and how the mule connects both of Janie's marriages. However, she failed to include how this was typical of the time and connected to Hurston's own personal experiences. In using the mule, Hurston connects her storyline to real life Eatonville and her own personal experiences. For example, as a child, Hurston was forced to work, as well as obey any and all rules set by her parents; she can relate to what it feels like to be a mule. She has been forced to do things she would rather not. Hurston's own emotions directly correlate to those of Janie when being forced to marry Logan. Hurston's use of the mule also connects to her studies in anthropology. According to lkwdpl.org, Hurston actively tied anthropology into her writings. Anthropology is the science that deals with the origins, physical and cultural development, biological characteristics, and social customs and beliefs of humankind (Dictionary.com.) The mule was commonly used in the south for both labor and transportation. This cultural reference simulates her real life upbringings as well as transcends to a deeper meaning, connecting to the maltreatment of women. In addition, Hurston also tried to connect folklore of the south into her work. A mule was the main character of a children's tale in South Carolina called The Talking Mule. (For a copy of the folklore visit this website: http://www.americanfolklore.net/folktales/sc1.html ) The attitude of the mule in this story parallels that of the southern women; they longed for a break, were thought to be crazy by men, and were thought to not have opinions. Hurston's efforts to draw from not only experience, but the stories and works of others, are what give her work so much more meaning than its superficial value. Hurston did not merely include the mule for symbolic reference to her characters.


  1. I didn't know about anthropology (besides that it's a store in the mall haha) or the folklore of the south or any of that when I wrote my post. But after reading what you wrote that makes sense that the mule symbol would be connected to that. Hurston seemed to use a lot of her own experiences in her writting.

  2. That's really interesting about the folk lore, and, the same as Rachel, I'd never heard it. Where Hurston was so interested in black folk lore it makes a lot of sense that she would include it in her novel.

  3. I think it's cool when authors tie in this random stuff from their lives that you wouldn't necessarily know or understand unless you do a little digging. Whenever I do creative writing, I find it ties back to me rather directly; I admire her ability to do so discreetly. It definitely takes a lot of talent.