Mulesand Menis a unique record of African American folk culture where Zora NealeHurston intersperses various cultural forms (i.e. folk tales, folksongs, 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 themtogether.
Hurston’s representation of African American folk culturevia “big ole lies” can be better understood with Bhabha’snotion of culture as he suggests “culture as a strategy ofsurvival is both transnational and translational” (Postcolonial191) and the “very language of cultural community needs to berethought from a postcolonial perspective” focusing on “theprofound shift in language of sexuality, the self and culturalcommunity” (Postcolonial 193). Intrigued by the influence of “lies”in Mulesand Men,I intend to investigate and scrutinize Hurston’s I/Eye narrativetechnique. While I am primarily interested in interpreting the”lies”, I also intend to explore her literary strategies as aform of resistance. Examining the “big ole lies” that transgressthe power/knowledge dichotomy through Bhabha-inspired lens, I wouldlike to flesh out how these stories subvert normativity and work aslanguage of dissent. Anotherreason for focusing on (in)visible resistance is Hurston’scomplicated relationship with her mentor Mrs Mason. As Meisenheldernotes, “part of the reason Hurston takes an indirect approach torace stems from her dependence on white figures who exertedconsiderable control over her work Hurston’s patron, CharlotteOsgood Mason, for instance, literally owned Hurston’s material andconsistently pushed Hurston to express only the ‘primitivism’ shesaw in Black culture” (Meisenhelder 268).
Even though Hurston seemsto be talking about “lies”, I believe that she is revealing thewhite lies about her contemporary African American community which iswhy I intend to categorize her narration as a form of dissent. Insetting out a critical framework, first, I will focus on thedualistic 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, amidstthe hybrid nature of Mulesand Men,Hurston offers double-coded meaning that redefine “big ole lies.”Lastly, I will discuss my theorization of how Mules and Men can beread as a form of dissent.