How is freeing the mule symbolic? To whom do the townspeople compare Starks? in chapter 6
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The mule becomes famous as the town's first freed animal, and it wanders about the town getting fat until it dies. There is a funeral for the mule at the swamp outside of town. Janie wants to attend, but Joe forbids her.
The first half of the chapter is about Matt Bonner's yellow mule. 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.