Their Eyes Were Watching God Mule Analysis

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Mules, Literally and Metaphorically

A mule is a cross between a horse and a donkey. Both of these animals are typically used to carry objects: cargo with donkeys and people with horses. The result of breeding between these animals creates a tough, infertile, and stubborn creature known colloquially as a mule. Mules are pack animals, used to carry equipment and supplies from area to area. They are seen as rough, generally unfriendly, and nothing more than a tool for their masters. In many instances throughout Their Eyes Were Watching, God Janie and all black women are metaphorically compared to mules in regards to their spirit and stubbornness, and the physical and metaphorical loads they carry.
Mules are spirited animals. In the novel the mule owned by Matt Bonner
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She emphasizes for the helpless beast and wonders why the men pick on such a helpless creature. She feels this empathy because, in a way, she can relate to the mule. The way the mule fights back against its oppressors is the way she wants to fight back against her husband Jodie’s control and assessment of her place in society. The way the mule has “more spirit than body” is how she feels about her marriage; she has the will to become her own woman but doesn’t have the ability to tell of her husband. Her internal struggles are like her being baited like the mule and feeling its pain but not being able to fight back for herself. Her will to be independent is echoed by Nanny when she states that “ Ah been prayin’ fuh it [women only being extensions of men, as mules are extensions of their masters] tuh be different wid you” (pg. 17). However, Nanny believes that this is a fickle dream whereas Janie has the fight and willpower to try to make it a reality. It is extremely ironic as well that Jodie is the one that buys the mule off of Matt Bonner but is truly the once keeping Janie as a metaphorical slave to his
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