Mules and Men Part II, Chapter Five: Summary and Analysis
by Zora Neale Hurston

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Part II, Chapter Five: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Dr. Duke: a hoodoo doctor who specializes in the collection of herbs and roots.

Dr. Samuel Jenkins: a man who specializes in reading the future through cards.

James Beasley: a man awaiting trial for assault.

Zora tells about the time she spent with two hoodoo specialists. Dr. Duke is known as a “swamper” since he spends most of his time in the swamps collecting the herbs and roots that are important to the practice of hoodoo. Dr. Duke is a practitioner as well and has two specialties, which are outlined in this chapter. His first specialty is law cases, both criminal and civil. Zora assists Dr. Duke in many rituals involving the aid of those awaiting trial and those who hope to receive financial gain through the use of hoodoo. Another specialty of Dr. Duke is his ability to drive people away from a place, which Zora describes because “so much has been said and written about [this] that we cannot omit mentioning it.”

Dr. Samuel Jenkins specializes in reading cards and also displays an extraordinary ability to read people. He often stops passersby on the street and warns them about their futures, which inevitably come true. While Zora is meeting with the famous African-American scholar, Dr. Charles Johnson, she takes him to a reading of Samuel Jenkins, who correctly predicts that he will be called to make a long trip.

Zora then outlines and mentions some of the many superstitions concerning the dead from different parts of the world including the Bahamas and Africa.

After her horrifying apprenticeship with Father Watson, Zora’s presentation of these two specialists might seem a bit anticlimactic, but probably provides a welcome relief to the reader. This change in tone is not only necessary to make the reader feel more comfortable, but after presenting some of the supernatural elements of hoodoo, culminating in the horrifying scene of Zora boiling a cat alive, this lighter tone allows the reader to examine some of the more...

(The entire section is 500 words.)