Mules and Men Part I, Chapter Four: Questions and Answers

Zora Neale Hurston

Part I, Chapter Four: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Babe Hill’s history in Polk County?

2. What do the townspeople believe Zora to be, according to Cliffert Ulmer, and why?

3. What two groups are at the party?

4. How much does the dress that Zora wears to the party cost, and why does she curse herself for buying it?

5. How does she explain having such an expensive dress?

6. What happened at the swamp two weeks ago that illustrated the danger there?

7. How does Joe know that the straw-boss cannot be sick?

8. Who are “de buckra,” and what does this mean?

9. Why won’t there be any logging that day?

10. What causes Jim to believe that something terrible has happened?

Answers
1. Babe Hill killed her husband during the Christmas season in 1926 and fled to Tampa. She was tracked down, caught, and spent a few months in jail before being allowed to return home.

2. Cliffert says that the people think Zora is either “a revenue officer, or a detective of some kind” trying to track down one of the many “fugitives from justice” in Polk County. Zora notes that “they were accustomed to strange women dropping into the quarters, but not in shiny gray Chevrolets.”

3. There are the dancers and the “woofers.” The woofers are those who are just sitting around and talking.

4. The dress cost $12.74, and Zora is angry with herself because there were so many cheaper dresses at Macy’s, and she should have known that an expensive dress would have exposed her as a stranger.

5. Zora says that this was the last present given to her by her old boyfriend, and she doesn’t have anything else like it.

6. The watchman who sleeps in the swamp was killed by a panther.

7. Joe claims that the straw-boss is far too ugly to be sick, and “if a spell of sickness ever tried to slip up on him, he’d skeer it into a three weeks’ spasm.”

8. According to the glossary, “buckra” is a West African term for white people.

9. The train used for logging was sent down to the Everglades in order to pick up a group of track workers and their equipment.

10. The straw-boss is already a half-hour late. As one of the workers says, “Must be something terrible when white folks get slow about putting us to work.”