Suggested Essay Topics
Part I, Introduction & Chapter One
1. Are there any stories that you fondly remember as a child, told to you by your parents or grandparents? Pick a story and compare it to other stories told by other students.
2. Compare the narrative sections with the folktale sections of Mules and Men. How does Hurston switch between the two sections?
Part I, Chapter Two
1. What comments made about the differences between men and women seem outdated now, and which do you believe still have some degree of truth to them?
Part I, Chapter Three
1. Find other tales in mythology that involve a person dealing with the devil or a devil figure. Compare these tales to “How Jack Beat the Devil.”
Part I, Chapter Four
1. Zora has trouble fitting in at Polk County because the townspeople believe she is rich. What must she do in order to fit in, and can any comparisons be drawn between Zora’s situation and a situation that you have faced?
2. Comment on the song “John Henry” and its position in African-American folklore.
Part I, Chapter Five
1. Research other cultures with folk heroes or heroines who play the same role as John does in the folktale, and compare these characters to John.
2. What villains similar to Old Massa appear in the folklore of other cultures?
Part I, Chapter Six
1. Create your own folktale that explains the appearance of a certain animal.
Part I, Chapter Seven
1. The rabbit has been established as the “trickster-hero” in African-American literature. What types of characters...
(The entire section is 689 words.)