Their Eyes Were Watching God Chapter 6 Summary
Some of the men like to tease Matt Bonner about his skinny yellow mule. Though everyone loves the conversation (except Matt), Joe has forbidden Janie to join in. He thinks she is too good for them and Janie resents him for it. She also resents how hard Joe makes her work in the store, especially since he doesn’t do much there himself. The most irksome thing, of course, is his staunch resolution for her to wear a head-rag in the store. We learn Joe does this because he is supremely jealous of other men "figuratively wallowing" his wife’s hair while she is going about her business in the store. But he does not tell Janie this; he simply commands her to wear the head-rag. When Matt Bonner’s yellow mule gets loose, the men decide to catch it and tease it for fun. Janie watches helplessly, feeling sorry for the poor beast. Then Joe does something unexpected. He buys the mule from Matt Bonner. When Matt ridicules the Mayor for it, saying that the mule will probably be dead within the week, Joe reveals that he hasn’t bought the mule to work, but simply to give the poor animal some rest. At this revelation, the others agree that it’s generous of Joe to do such a thing. Janie praises him for his big-heartedness, comparing him to Lincoln freeing the Negroes, and one of the men remarks that Janie is a born orator. The freed mule becomes the talk of the town and the people imagine him doing a great many comic things. Eventually the mule dies with its legs stuck straight up in the air. One man named Lum concludes that the mule, being a spirited creature, saw Death coming and fought to the end – which is why he is found in such an unnatural position. The whole town has a great "draggin-out" for the dead mule, who has become something of a local celebrity, and they put on a hilarious funeral for him. Everyone enjoys the funeral celebration immensely – except for Janie. Joe orders his wife to stay at the store because he claims...
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