Essay about Mules and Men

Essay about Mules and Men

Length: 1586 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

“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.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Husain Haddawy’s The Arabian Nights and Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men

- Husain Haddawy’s The Arabian Nights and Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men - Revealing the Conflicts, Desires and Dreams of the Collector "For the translator, who stands astride two cultures, possesses two different sensibilities, and assumes a double identity" —Husain Haddawy Magic, love, sex, war, gods, spells. These are all common ingredients in the folktales of almost every culture. Many people say that folktales are windows to cultures. That might be so. Often readers do not realize, though, that folktales also reflect aspects of the collectors....   [tags: Arabian Nights Essays]

Strong Essays
2163 words (6.2 pages)

John Steinbeck 's Of Mice And Men Essay

- Life is full of choices: where to go to school, where to live, who to marry, and what jobs to apply for, and most of the time each of us control what happens with these choices. What if those choices brought someone to the point of being trapped and feeling helpless. In the novella Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck the wife of Curley is in just that spot. She made the choice to marry a tyrant of a man and is now forced to live with the consequences of her decisions. Curley’s Wife is misunderstood due to the workers’ assumptions, Curley’s relationship with her, and her unclear background....   [tags: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Marriage]

Strong Essays
1773 words (5.1 pages)

John Steinbeck 's Of Mice And Men Essay

- John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a social commentary on the reality of life in the 1930s. During the Great Depression many people were left unemployed and homeless. Due to this, the concept of the American Dream became even more idealized. Steinbeck uses characters and events that take place in the novella to display his views not only towards the American Dream but also the social ills of the era. Steinbeck is shown to have a fatalistic view of the American Dream. This is a reoccurring notion amongst many of his books, such as ‘The wrath of Grapes’....   [tags: Great Depression, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck]

Strong Essays
1384 words (4 pages)

John Steinbeck 's Of Mice And Men Essays

- Of Mice and Men is a story of tragedy written by the successful writer, John Steinbeck. It’s written in third person omniscient and takes place in California. It’s written with a sullen tone and shows the hardship of the working man during the Great Depression. Long descriptions and dialogue that makes you think overtake this novel. The story starts with a long description of the scenery around the two main characters, Lennie and George. It explains that they are truding through the woods in search of a farm in Soledad, California....   [tags: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Great Depression]

Strong Essays
1712 words (4.9 pages)

Essay Analysis Of John Steinbeck 's ' Of Mice And Men '

- Lizzie Ritchie Mr. Schneidewent English 11 13 October 2015 Of Mice and Men Literary Analysis Five Paragraph Essay Curley’s wife is a complex, main character in John Steinbeck’s novella, “Of Mice and Men”. She is introduced as an insignificant secondary character, but evidently posses the importance of causing the end of the novella. Despite the weight of her role, her value is hindered because of the culture towards women in the 1930s. Steinbeck uses imagery, foreshadowing, and metaphors to show loneliness analyzed through a Feminist Lens....   [tags: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Great Depression]

Strong Essays
824 words (2.4 pages)

Essay on American Dream as a Myth in Of Mice and Men By John Steinbeck

- American Dream as a Myth in Of Mice and Men By John Steinbeck Works Cited Missing Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, is set in Salinas, Californiain the 1930's at the time of The Great Depression. The book is about the lives of two working men and it covers topics such as industrialisation and racism, both important issues in the USAat the time. All the workers had their own personal dream to achieve (The American Dream), but none of them managed to achieve their dreams and in the end the American dream proves to be unachievable....   [tags: Essay on Of Mice and Men]

Strong Essays
1003 words (2.9 pages)

Characters in Of Mice and Men Essay

- Choose three characters from Of Mice And Men. What do you learn of these characters and they're personalities, and what seems to be their role inthe novel. The novel Of Mice And Men is set in Soledad, California. John Steinbeck, the author of the novel grew up by the Salinas River and the setting of the story is that of his childhood memories. Steinbeck wanted to explore the social problems and hardships that existed in his native rural environment during the Great Depression years. This essay will examine Curley's wife, Candy and Crooks....   [tags: English Literature]

Free Essays
1266 words (3.6 pages)

Essay about Curley's Wife: Of Mice and Men

- ... This implies that Curley's wife is not happy with her marriage, and is seeking attention from the other men due to a lack of attention from Curley. Furthermore, Candy goes on to call Curley's wife "a tart" and "a tramp". Suggesting Candy sees Curley's wife as somebody distrustful and potentially harmful. This language reflects the negative attitude towards women at the time, and has come across in Steinbeck's writing. Candy's remarks form the readers first impression of Curley's wife as someone to regard with caution and dislike....   [tags: John Steinbeck novels, character analysis]

Strong Essays
524 words (1.5 pages)

Curley's Wife in Of Mice and Men Essay examples

- In John Steinbeck’s book Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck portrays Curley’s wife as a flirtatious, mischievous, and over all isolated woman. Steinbeck doesn’t give this character a name, yet she is one of the most important characters in the story. Curley’s wife first comes off as flirtatious to the main characters, George and Lenny, when they first hear about her from the character Candy . Candy is talking about how she gives men “the eye”. He also displays his feelings about her by saying, “Well, I think Curley’s married… a tart”(28)....   [tags: Character Analysis, Literature]

Strong Essays
746 words (2.1 pages)

Essay about Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck The novel “of mice and men” is based on broken dreams. This book was written about the 1930’s when slavery has just been abolished. This book is also about the discrimination of women, so not only black people were treated unfair but also women were. In the 1930’s the men were in charge of their wives. Staeinbeck attracts the reader’s interest by exploring different kinds of themes. It is obvious that these themes are primarily negative, for example loneliness and isolation, broken dreams, prejudice and outcast, exploitation, victims of the time and insecurity....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
1146 words (3.3 pages)