Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Hurston had both an eye and an ear for her folk material. One of her trademarks was the use of dialect. The stories and folklore that she collected and translated into her writing were from an oral tradition. To preserve this form of African American expression, Hurston mastered the art of presenting black vernacular speech in written form. Isis, Grandma Potts, Isis’s brother Joel, and even the Robinson brothers (local white cattlemen) speak in the local dialect throughout the story, in contrast to the white lady, who speaks in educated English.

Grandma Potts in particular represents family and tradition, and it is from her mouth that the most colorful speech in the story emerges. She speaks the opening line of the story: “You, Isie Watts! Git ’own offen dat gate post an’ rake up dis yahd!” Frustrated by Isis’s failure to respond, she screams: “Ah’ll show dat limb of Satan she cain’t shake herself at me. If she ain’t down by the time Ah gets dere, Ah’ll break huh down in de lines.”

The story is written in the third person, but the point of view is distinctly that of Isis, the joyful dancer. The strong sense of self-confidence that characterizes both Hurston the young writer and her alter ego, the child Isis, pervades the story.

The image of the horizon is the expression of Isis’s hopes and dreams. She habitually sits on the gatepost gazing yearningly up the road to Orlando. Once seated comfortably...

(The entire section is 427 words.)

Drenched in Light Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Awkward, Michael, ed. New Essays on “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Boyd, Valerie. Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Scribner, 2003.

Campbell, Josie P. Student Companion to Zora Neale Hurston. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001.

Croft, Robert W. A Zora Neale Hurston Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Cronin, Gloria L., ed. Critical Essays on Zora Neale Hurston. New York: G. K. Hall, 1998.

Grant, Nathan. Masculinist Impulses: Toomer, Hurston, Black Writing, and Modernity. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2004.

Hemenway, Robert E. Zora Neale Hurston. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977. Reprint. London: Camden Press, 1986.

Hill, Lynda Marion. Social Rituals and the Verbal Art of Zora Neale Hurston. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1996.

Hurston, Lucy Anne. Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Doubleday, 2004.

Jones, Sharon L. Rereading the Harlem Renaissance: Race, Class, and Gender in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Lyons, Mary E. Sorrow’s Kitchen: The Life and Folklore of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990.

McGlamery, Tom. Protest and the Body in Melville, Dos Passos, and Hurston. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Miles, Diana. Women, Violence, and Testimony in the Works of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: P. Lang, 2003.

Pierpont, Claudia Roth. Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

Wright, Melanie J. Moses in America: The Cultural Uses of Biblical Narrative. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.