Janie's Mule Analysis

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Janie is both the narrator and the main character of her own story, and the way in which Janie's two styles of communication are used is integral to the illustration of the development of Janie's voice over time. During Janie's stifling marriage to Joe Starks, she is forced to be a woman of few words. Like her hair tied up with a rag, her voice is choked into silence by her controlling husband. Nonetheless, while her mouth is largely unmoving through large periods of her life, her brain is hardly unthinking. The separate ways in which Janie's thoughts and the dialogue of the story are presented emphasize the juxtaposition of Janie's internal self with her external reality. Dialogue presented in the story is full of the colloquial dialect that…show more content…
As she observes the townspeople gossip about and discuss Matt Bonner's mule, Janie "sometimes...thought up good stories on the mule" herself (Hurston 53). Janie not only hears and can follow what the others say about the mule, but she is also able to reflect on the situation and imagine her own relevant responses. She has an opinion she wishes she could share, but which she is prevented from allowing to escape from her thoughts into the casual language of conversation by her restrictive, brick wall of a husband. Furthermore, Janie is able to notice some of Joe's idiosyncratic behavior regarding the mule, including how "he didn't talk the mule himself" but would "[sit] and laugh[] at it," and how he would "hustle her off inside the store" when any of the "big talkers" arrived (Hurston 54). Janie is often passive in her actions, saying nothing "no matter what Jody did" for years of their marriage. However, her internal voice during her time in Eatonville is aware, active, and alert. She notices patterns in the behavior of others, and wants to be included in the discussions on important topics from which Jody forbids
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