CliffsNotes Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Megan E. Ash | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

Summary

The porch sitters soon take up daily residence on the porch of Joe’s store. There, they delight in accusing dimwitted Matt Bonner of mistreating his yellow mule. Matt and his mule become a favorite topic of conversation and teasing, and the porch sitters vie with one another in tantalizing Matt, accusing him of overworking and nearly starving the animal. Janie listens to the talk and is amused by it. She has in mind some comical stories she’d like to tell, but Joe forbids her to take part in the chatter. He calls the people trashy, unworthy of conversation with the mayor’s wife.

One afternoon, the men engage in a game of mule-baiting. In a natural defensive reaction, the mule fights back, but the more the animal resists, the more the men tease him. Finally, Janie mutters her disapproval, which Joe overhears. In a surprising act of kindness, both for the mule and for Janie, he purchases the animal. From then on, it becomes the town pet, living in the front yard of the store and rambling about at will, leading a life of ease and freedom. Joe has done an act of unselfishness for Janie.

The mule finally dies of old age, and the townspeople stage an elaborate mock funeral service before they leave the carcass to buzzards. Joe joins in the hilarious parody, but Janie does what Joe tells her to do: She stays in the store. When Joe returns, still chuckling at the foolishness, they briefly discuss the role of fun and play in the serious business of survival and daily living.

One day, Joe discovers that a bill of shipment has been misplaced and a desired item is not in stock. He berates Janie severely, and she tries to answer with comments about his own deficiencies. As usual, Joe prevails, and Janie gives up trying to defend herself. Thus, Joe is satisfied with her apparent submission.

On a day when everything goes wrong in the kitchen, Joe slaps Janie. At this moment, Janie knows beyond any doubt and hope that this marriage will never be what she wants. All she can do is summon the courage to put on a good face and endure it.

-36-

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CliffsNotes Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents iii
  • How to Use This Book vi
  • Life and Background of the Author 1
  • Introduction to the Novel 11
  • Critical Commentaries 19
  • Chapter 1 20
  • Chapter 2 24
  • Chapter 3 27
  • Chapter 4 29
  • Chapter 5 32
  • Chapter 6 36
  • Chapter 7 41
  • Chapter 8 43
  • Chapter 9 46
  • Chapter 10 48
  • Chapter 11 50
  • Chapter 12 52
  • Chapter 13 54
  • Chapter 14 57
  • Chapter 15 59
  • Chapter 16 60
  • Chapter 17 62
  • Chapter 18 64
  • Chapter 19 66
  • Chapter 20 69
  • Character Analyses 71
  • Critical Essays 81
  • CliffsNotes Review 89
  • CliffsNotes Resource Center 93
  • Index 95
  • Notes 101
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