How does Hurston remain loyal to herself as an anthropologist and to the community of people she interviews?–mules_and_men/Mules%20and%20men.pdf
Mules and Men in relation to anthropology. We will then go through each chapter and talk about what she is doing in that chapter, stepping back to analyze what stories she relates and what kind of information they provide. Recall what each chapter was about. Then do the same for the rest of Part I.
Here are questions to consider. I assume you will have additional questions to add.
Chapter One
What does Hurston mean when she says “I hailed them as I went into neutral” (p. 7). What is she doing here as a narrator?
Chapter Two
Hurston does not generalize at all. Why not?
How does Hurston remain loyal to herself as an anthropologist and to the community of people she interviews?
Chapter Three
Who is Jack the Trickster?
Why are stories considered “lies”?
How might “lies” be a form of individual and communal performance?
How might these stories reflect individual’s ways of relating to each other, their natural world, God?
Chapter Four
Why does she go to Polk County?
She had trouble entering the community. Why and how did she manage to be trusted?
She asks, p. 62, how we should interpret their laughs
What kinds of stories do they tell in Polk County?
How might these encounters reflect tensions between Northern educated elitism and lower-class laborers from the South?
Chapter Five
Hurston orders her tales: from light hearted funny tales to hopeful tales to tales affirming freedom. Why do you think she does it?
Who is John and Ole Massa? What purpose do they serve in describing race relations? Labor relations? How are these tales gendered?
Did Hurston view black folklore as arising from a psychologically destroyed people or proof of psychic health? Why? What does she mean when she writes that the folk knew “how to hit a straight lick with a crooked stick”
Chapter Six
The chapter recounts a constant “ribbing on” one another, one upping each other. Each tale gets more fantastical (weather, mosquitos, land).
What function does this banter provide in terms of social relations and cultural knowledge about the way things are? What function does it serve in the ethnography?
Chapter Seven
Q: Do only men tell lies?
Q: What is she talking about here? p. 125 “They all got a hidden meanin’, ju’like de Bible. Everybody can’t undertood what they mean. Most people is thin-brained. They’s born wid they feet under the moon. Some folks is born wid they feet on de sun and they kin seek out de inside meanin’ of words.”
Chapter Eight and Nine
Q: What kind of messages/lessons are being imparted through these stories?
Q: What do we learn about gender relations?
Chapter Ten
Q: pp. 178-9 Last scenario – the fight
How is this a statement on the relationship between informant and ethnographer, between text and voice, and authority?

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