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Hajir Sailors

AP English
Summer Reading Log

Their Eyes Were Watching God-Chapter 6

Chapter six is quite long and it seems to move along the story of the town. Not
nearly written as well as the rest of her chapters, but still written very well. The chapter
starts out with Janie working at the store, just like she does everyday except Sunday.
Janie doesn’t like to work at the store very much, but enjoys it much more when she
doesn’t have to sell things. Neale-Hurston gives an example in the case of Matt Bonner’s
yellow mule and does not leave that example for quite a while. This yellow mule was the
second most talked about thing in town. People would pick on Matt because his mule
was too skinny. Matt would become defensive and unhappy and claim that he fed his
mule but the people of the town kept on making fun of him. Janie found this entertaining
but was banned from speaking of it because Joe did not want her to indulge herself in the
pleasures of these men. Joe continually puts down the people of his town, however he
treats them much better than he treats his own wife.
Janie Starks does not enjoy her time in Eatonville. She does not like the post
office, she does not like the store, and most of all she hates wearing a head-rag while
working in the store. She does not know so, but her husband is a very jealous man and
does not want anyone near his wife or to see her hair.
After we get through Janie’s troubles we get back to the mule, Matt has lost it and
he has to use it the next day to plow a field. When he asks people if they have seen the
mule a big argument breaks out regarding the mule and how and why Matt came to
Eatonville. Matt claims he wanted to but all the people of the town say it was the mule’s
decision. Then Matt leaves the mule is heard coming down the road. The people try to
catch it and finally wear it out. Then Mayor Starks comes along and tries to buy the
skinny yellow mule from Matt. Matt thinks he just ripped off the mayor but Joe shows
everyone a bit of kindness and compassion or maybe it’s just a well thought up excuse
when he says “Didn’t buy ‘im fuh no work. I god, Ah bough dat varmint tuh let ‘im rest.
You didn’t have gumption enough tuh do it.” (Neale-Hurston, 58) This is the first time in
the last few chapters that everyone in the presence of Joe has full respect for him. After
everyone pays their respects Janie makes a quick little speech and for the first time in a
long time acknowledges her husband to be a good man. She also breaks ground by
giving her first speech in the town.
Joe saves himself by doing what he did and puts the mule in a location where all
can see it and people feed it and it grows fat and he is seen as a better man for all this.
However in due time the mule dies and the town goes off to a “draggin” where they take
the mule, give it a speech and allow the buzzards to have it. Janie would like to come
along but is denied the chance because she is the “mayor’s wife”. She again is very hurt
by the way Joe is treating her.
After the town leaves the carcass to the buzzards Neale-Hurston personifies the
buzzards and a chant was created for the buzzards. The meaning is hard to find but the
mule is called a man by the buzzards and the reason for death is “Bare, bare fat.” (62)
After the Parson plucks out the eyes of the mule the rest of the buzzards take to tearing it
apart and all is back to normal.
Joe returns with the townspeople, but he realizes his wife is not pleased. Instead
of talking to her, like a reasonable person might do, he talks to her like a politician would.
He is again moving himself away from being the man of her dreams. She didn’t believe
Joe could have fun anymore, he was just business. Joe knew otherwise but he couldn’t
show that to his wife, otherwise he thought his wife might become lazy.
Following all this is a 3 page argument between Lige and Sam which in one way
shows that they argue a lot and they involve the whole town, but in another way it is
showing a difference in caution and nature. Some things are the nature of people, and
other things have to do with caution, something we’re not born with, but something we
learn. It takes me back to chapter two when we discussed Janie thinking she was white,
and showing that the difference between white and black isn’t natural, but a man made
caution.
The next few pages are devoted to men oogling over a few women that pass by
and there is “play acting”, but Mrs. Bogle wants to buy something in the store and Joe
very rudely makes Janie go inside and complete the sale. They get into an argument
regarding women’s capability to think, but Janie is forced into submission. In the end
Janie brings back the fact that she has been married for 7 years now and that she no
longer is a petal-open pear tree, but rather very closed and dying.
In the last few paragraphs we are introduced to Mrs. Robbins who claims her
husband doesn’t feed her or her children and she comes begging into the store for food.
However it seems as if everyone knows otherwise, and while she is given the food, it is
put on her husband’s tab. When all the men are speaking of her Janie comes out and
makes a comment to stand up for women and she is quickly shot down by her husband,
publicly, and it seems to yet again be a year of answers.