Mules and Men Part I, Chapter Two: Summary and Analysis

Zora Neale Hurston

Part I, Chapter Two: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Bennie Lee: a drunk man who tries to tell stories for the group.

Shug: Bennie Lee’s stepsister. She argues with Bennie Lee while she is trying to tell a story.

Gold: a woman who breaks up the storytelling by arguing with Gene.

The day after the “toe-party,” the same people Zora met on the store porch are there again, playing cards. Seeing Zora, they invite her over and let her know that if she wants to hear folktales, they plan to tell a lot that night. Since there is a church lesson going on while Zora is talking to them, they begin to talk about preachers. A couple of fables about how to become a preacher are traded among the townspeople. Zora then wonders why different church factions are fighting against each other. Charlie tells a tale that explains why the churches are separate.

Once the tale is finished, Gene and Gold start arguing about who has darker skin, which leads to the legend “Why Negroes Are Black.” This leads to a discussion about the difference between women and men. Mathilda Moseley tells a fable that explains why women are able to take advantage of men. The discussion continues until Shug’s attempt to tell a story is interrupted by a drunk Bennie Lee. The two begin to argue (rather than playfully tease as the townspeople had been doing), but Bennie Lee is so drunk that he falls asleep.

In this chapter, the reader should notice that the telling of tales takes up much more space than the telling of tales in the previous chapter. Furthermore, the issues discussed in these stories are much more serious than the lighthearted tales exchanged in the first chapter. Themes, such as man’s...

(The entire section is 711 words.)