Mules read as a form of dissent.

and Men
is a unique record of African American folk culture where Zora Neale
Hurston intersperses various cultural forms (i.e. folk tales, folk
songs, and hoodoo rituals) with ethnographic narrative. Consciously,
she cultivates the narrative divide based on an objective “Eye”
and performative “I”, and tells the tales by weaving them
together. Hurston’s representation of African American folk culture
via “big ole lies” can be better understood with Bhabha’s
notion of culture as he suggests “culture as a strategy of
survival is both transnational and translational” (Postcolonial
191) and the “very language of cultural community needs to be
rethought from a postcolonial perspective” focusing on “the
profound shift in language of sexuality, the self and cultural
community” (Postcolonial 193). Intrigued by the influence of “lies”
in Mules
and Men,
I intend to investigate and scrutinize Hurston’s I/Eye narrative
technique. While I am primarily interested in interpreting the
“lies”, I also intend to explore her literary strategies as a
form of resistance. Examining the “big ole lies” that transgress
the power/knowledge dichotomy through Bhabha-inspired lens, I would
like to flesh out how these stories subvert normativity and work as
language of dissent.

reason for focusing on (in)visible resistance is Hurston’s
complicated relationship with her mentor Mrs Mason. As Meisenhelder
notes, “part of the reason Hurston takes an indirect approach to
race stems from her dependence on white figures who exerted
considerable control over her work Hurston’s patron, Charlotte
Osgood Mason, for instance, literally owned Hurston’s material and
consistently pushed Hurston to express only the ‘primitivism’ she
saw in Black culture” (Meisenhelder 268). Even though Hurston seems
to be talking about “lies”, I believe that she is revealing the
white lies about her contemporary African American community which is
why I intend to categorize her narration as a form of dissent.

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setting out a critical framework, first, I will focus on the
dualistic nature of Hurston’s narration by referring to Du Bois.
Next, the split in consciousness as performing “I” and gazing
“Eye” will be taken up. The third section will argue that, amidst
the hybrid nature of Mules
and Men,
Hurston offers double-coded meaning that redefine “big ole lies.”
Lastly, I will discuss my theorization of how Mules and Men can be
read as a form of dissent.


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