Essay about Mules and Men

Essay about Mules and Men

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“Mules and Men”
Zora Neale Hurston

Beneath the lies a hidden history of unorganized, everyday conflict waged by African-American working people. Once we explore in greater detail those daily conflicts and the social and cultural spaces where ordinary people felt free to articulate their opposition and power in African-American "folk" communities. Folklore's function as an everyday form of resistance in the Jim Crow South. Zora Hurston, narrative frame is far more supple than has previously been acknowledged. She gave the title Mules and Men a depiction of comparison of African Americans in the South(niggers) to mules. The mule is a work horse that is not used for speed, but known for eats weak minds and strong back. Hurston brings a clear view of the strong minds that enable this culture to thrive.

How does Hurston experience and transcribe the of everyday resistance if she herself as an outsider? Hurston encounters resistance from the workers on the job when she first arrives.(15) In these early scenes at the lumber camp, her narrative style is present as a clumsy "I" who can't quite fit in. She drives a fancy car, she wears expensive clothing, and the workers suspect that she is a detective. She explains what she had to do to become part of the "inner circle": "I had first to convince the 'job' that I was not an enemy in the person of the law; and, second, I had to prove that I was their kind" (65). As she gains their trust, her narrative persona shifts more easily between first- and third-person. Finally, when she follows the men on the job, her narrative practically disappears. Instead, she situates her tales in relation to conditions in the camp. Hurston learns to overcome resistance by fitting in, and her studied invisibility enables her to display folklore's power as a discourse of nonconformity.

The major event leading to her acceptance in the camp is her contribution to a group performance of "John Henry," a track-laying ballad. The ballad dramatizes a competition between John Henry, who is an excellent spike driver, and the steam drill his boss has procured to replace him. John Henry keeps up with the drill for an hour, until he collapses of a heart attack. The song is a parable of the manual laborer's promise under the industrial making of work: "I'll hammer my fool self to death" ...

... middle of paper ...

..., but when such curiosity is aroused a division of labor is devised to determine what the bundle contains. The character called Ole Missus asks her husband, Ole Massa, to pick up the box and see what is inside. But the box appears to be too heavy, so he tells "de nigger" to get the box. He, in turn, tells his wife to get it, and" 'she run and grabbed a-hold of de box and opened it up and it was full of hard work'" (74). While the tale concretizes the origin of work by describing it as an object that can be concealed in a bundle, the tale also explains the social context by which the worker is compelled to do her job. Additionally, the tale offers an ironic exposition of the lure of the gift by conflating the gift with work: "De nigger 'oman" who opens the box does so with great enthusiasm, as if the box contained a gift.

The folklores told enable African Americans to be encourage, imaginative, and not oppressed due to their present conditions. Many so the title incorrectly. The tile was given in humor just like most stories told within the book. A culture of people so rich even while be exposed as only being known for their work and not their minds.

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