Describe the "dragging out" ceremony that the town holds for the mule. How does the ceremony fit the description from page 51 of the townspeople's stories being a "crayon enlargement of life" ? What reason does Joe give for not allowing Janie to attend the ceremony? Do you think he had a right to make her stay at the store?
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There is a strong parallel between the mule and Janie. Recall that Nanny warns Janie in the first chapter that the "nigger woman is de mule uh de world." Janie is the first person to be angered by the porchsitters' baiting of the mule; she identifies with the mule's struggle. Although it seems as though Joe cares for the mule because he pays five dollars to protect it, it becomes clear that he is only exploiting the mule for further self-aggrandizement. He literally uses its carcass as a platform for the "great eulogy" that he performs. Joe prevents Janie from attending the funeral, so no one is there to speak out against the mule's desecration. After they leave the mule to rot, buzzards swoop in and begin to devour it. Nature, in the form of buzzards, is able to articulate Janie's rage, and speak for the mule. The chief buzzard is seems like a religious figure; Hurston refers to him as the Parson. When the Parson asks what killed the mule, the other buzzard's answer "fat." The reader could interpret this reply as meaning that Joe killed the mule by freeing it because it was fed too much too suddenly.