It’s been a while. I doubt many people were waiting for my return, but if you were—This is the Resurrection. LOL! Anyway, today I am doing something a little different, I am just going to write.
I was thinking about a book I read in high school called "The Known World". The novel examined slavery in the antebellum era in Virginia.
There was a Black character in the novel named Moses that I could never shake. Moses was an overseer who worked with a mule, but for some reason, I always thought the mule was just a reflection of him. I was convinced that the author only depicted him as a man to show that there was no difference in their treatment. I remember feeling so frustrated thinking about this Black man as a mule. A MULE!?!?!?!...a weird hybrid creature that has no real place in society, an animal only meant to work.
Let me explain why after so many years this imagery was so striking.
1- In the novel, Moses had a family, but was never depicted with them. For me, this was their way of showing that mules don't have offspring.
2- The mule was the only living creature that was always around Moses
3- The day Moses’s master died, Moses freed himself from a harness that connected him to the oldest mule his master owned
4- The mule was always longing for home and rest…so was Moses, but neither the mule nor Moses ever found a home or rest.
Note: There were times in the novel where Moses went to a forest to nap, however, I believe the forest was meant to symbolize the Black man’s relationship with God and/or spirituality during “tough times” which is why I don’t consider that to be “rest”.
5- I remember a part in the novel where Moses drops the tail of the mule (this is one of the few times he physically disconnects from the mule). After dropping the tail, he could move freely. My high school self was like “if that’s not a depiction of him longing to be free from the shackles enslavement I don’t know what is”
So, the question is…was Moses the mule?
Was a mule leading another mule to a promise land that didn't exist?
Was a mule (a Black man) leading (biblical reference to Moses/reference to Moses’s position in the book as an overseer) another mule (the actual mule…which would still be Black people if Moses and the mule are the same) to a promise land (freedom from slavery/ “home and rest”) that didn't exist (The slave owner died but Moses's position did not change/ Moses's naps in the forest could be interpreted as the illusion of rest)?
This character’s want for freedom and fellowship left quite an impression on me. I would love to read this story again and compare my original interpretation to a current one.