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

Start Your Free Trial

Download Mules and Men Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Part II, Chapter Seven: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Kitty Brown: a “two-headed” doctor who specializes in relationships.

Rachael Roe and John Doe: a couple who become involved in a pair of cases with Kitty Brown.

Minnie Foster: a woman who visits Kitty Brown several times for help with her relationship.

Zora’s last experiences are with Kitty Brown, a hoodoo doctor who specializes in marriages and relationships. Rachael Roe comes to Kitty Brown because John Doe deceived her and took her possessions. She wants John Doe to be put to death, so Kitty agrees to hold a hoodoo dance. Zora recounts the elaborate preparations for the dance and participates in the dance itself, despite being so inexperienced. John Doe then comes in out of fear and asks for the curse to be removed. Kitty Brown is also visited several times by Minnie Foster, who has a new boyfriend and is obviously not confident in her relationship. Kitty outlines several rituals designed to strengthen the relationship.

Zora concludes her book with a tale about a cat who catches a mouse. As the cat prepares to eat the mouse, it is told by the mouse to wash itself. When the cat begins to wash, the mouse is able to escape. The second time the cat catches the mouse, the cat tells the mouse that it has manners, but it will use them after it eats. Zora then finishes her tale by saying, “I’m sitting here like Sis Cat, washing my face and using my manners.”

The denouement of Mules and Men takes place not in the final chapter, but in a small addendum which seems to be attached to the final chapter as an afterthought. This final section would, of course, be anticlimactic in a traditional novel, but in this work the final section resolves, in an unusually satisfying way, any loose ends that might have been left for the reader.

Although the most horrific hoodoo scenes were in the middle of Chapter Four, the stories at the end of this section are no less significant. It is true that these stories are similar in tone to the relatively light hoodoo stories told in the first chapter; stories which we, as modern readers, might not have been quick to believe. However, Zora has now given evidence of the power of hoodoo. The reader should have a different attitude toward these final stories, treating them, if not with firm conviction, at least with the respect that many of the people whom Zora encountered do. What the reader might have scoffed at in the beginning of the hoodoo section is now read seriously due to the power of Zora’s faith.

The hoodoo dance is the most extreme ritual we see take place, and the reader is prepared for it due only to the structure established by Hurston. The one constant throughout this section has been Hurston and her devotion to the craft. The hoodoo dance represents her passion for hoodoo in its most physical form.

Minnie Foster’s constant visits are comedic, but nonetheless illustrate how the weak utilize hoodoo in a less respectful fashion...

(The entire section is 788 words.)