Their Eyes Were Watching God
De white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out… de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don't tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world as fur as Ah can see (14).
The white man is on the top of the social and economic hierarchy. He holds the power, and due to this power has a privilege commanding respect and performed labors. The people who comply are the African-American men. However, there is a second hierarchy for the black men under the white man's privileges. To assume some sort of position of power they use whatever influence they have, consequentially the black women are categorized lastly. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, African-American women are portrayed as mules of society (Perennial Classics, c.1998, Harper Collins Pubs.). They are born with an assumed gender role forcing them into a life of constant expectation and unappreciation. They are, in all actuality, the beasts of burden. By comparing the lives of African American women and mules it is evident that they both work for others benefits, they both are property of men, and they both carry the biggest burden. Mules are abused, mistreated, ridiculed, and overworked, so are black women.
Women, like mules, work for others benefits. A prominent example of this is Janie's Grandmother. Even though she has gained her freedom, she still lives her life as a civil servant for a white family, the Washburn's. She cannot see another option, and gains nothing from her position. She is working in the household for the benefit of Mrs. Washburn in particular, doing her duties and making a white privileged woman's life easier. By performing her duties she has no advantages, her work can be compared to that of a mules. She completes her tasks as a mule would, thoughtlessly and trained. She passes on her passive attitude onto her granddaughter Janie.
Janie works for her first husband, doing what he demands of her. Like a mule she sits when told, stands where she is told, and does exactly what she is told to do. She does not think for herself, pondering "maybe if somebody was to tell me how" (23). When a charming young man convinces her she needs a better life she follows, as a mule would. She slowly holds a better title, Mrs. Mayor, but still follows her husband. She spends endless days in her new husbands store, thankless days, following Jody's specific direction.
Janie and her grandmother represent a culture of women that were stereotyped into a specific gender role, putting them as the last class in society. They received no compensation or respect for their services. Their work specifically...