Mule Bone

Plot synopsis

The play begins in Eatonville, Florida, on a Saturday afternoon with Jim and Dave fighting for Daisy's affection. The two men come to blows, and Jim picks up a hock bone from a mule and knocks Dave out. Jim is arrested and held for trial in Joe Clarke's barn.[1]

On Monday, the trial begins in the Macedonia Baptist Church. The townspeople are divided along religious lines: Jim's Methodist supporters sit on one side of the church, Dave's Baptist supporters on the other. The issue to be decided at the trial is whether or not Jim has committed a crime. Jim admits he hit Dave but denies it was a crime. Elder Simms argues on Jim's behalf that a weapon is necessary to commit a crime, and nowhere in the Bible does it say a mule bone is a weapon. Elder Childers, representing Dave, says Samson used a donkey's jawbone to kill 3,000 men (citing Judges 18:18),[2] so the hock bone of a mule must be even more powerful. Joe Clarke declares Jim guilty and banishes him from town for two years.[3]

Act III takes place some time later, with Daisy encountering Jim outside of town. She tells him she's been worried about him, but he's skeptical. She demonstrates the sincerity of her affection and Dave comes upon the couple. The two men engage in a war of words to try to show which of them loves Daisy more. The contest ends when it becomes clear that Daisy expects her man to work for the white people who employ her. Jim and Dave are reconciled, and neither remains interested in courting Daisy. The two men return to Eatonville.[4]

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