Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 510
In “Drenched in Light” by Zora Neale Hurston, we meet Isis Watts a young black girl living in rural Florida. At the beginning of the story, we see Isis sitting on the gatepost of her house, staring at the shell road, a passage between northern cities like Sanford and southern cities like Orlando. While her grandmother doesn’t appreciate her zeal, Isis loves to wave at passers and greet them. She even will travel with people down the road if they ask her to, everyone who passes seems to appreciate her energy and joy, more than her grandmother.
Explaining the way people see Isis Hurston says,
Everybody in the country, white and colored, knew little Isis Watts, Isis the Joyful. The Robinson brothers, white cattlemen, were particularly fond of her and always extended a stirrup for her to climb up behind one of them for a short ride, or let her try to crack the long bull whips and yee whoo at the cows.
Isis is continually bored and gets into a lot of trouble for her antics throughout the day. First, she is too distracted to complete the chores her grandmother picks out for her. Then she is told to sit on the porch, and she not only fails to sit correctly, but she dares to whistle. She then goes into the house with her grandmother, who falls asleep sewing. Isis notices that her grandmother has whiskers and she and her brother try to shave grandma. Well, grandma wakes up and runs out of the house to tell her father.
Knowing she is in deep trouble, Isis runs and hides under the house. Before her grandmother returns, she sees a carnival traveling down the road—so she grabs her grandmother's new tablecloth and follows them down the road. There she is the light of the party because people love the way she dances—Hurston describes it as,
The Grand Exalted Ruler rose to speak; the band was hushed, but Isis danced on, the crowd clapping their hands for her. No one listened to the Exalted one, for little by little the multitude had surrounded the small brown dance.
Even in a huge crowd, Isis has the same effect of drawing attention and exuding life. Her grandmother tracks her down and causes Isis to flee into the woods. She is feeling sullen and thinks about drowning herself to teach her family a lesson when a car pulls up and asks her for directions. The white couple in the car had seen her dancing, and the woman appreciated her youth and life. They drive her back home, as she promises to give them directions, and the woman helps her to get out of the trouble she is in by paying her grandmother for the tablecloth and for Isis to come and dance for her. The story ends with Isis leaving with the couple to go and dance and the woman says,
I would like just a little of her sunshine to soak into my soul. I would like that a lot.
Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 531
Isis Watts is perched on the gatepost of her home, looking with longing up the road to Orlando. The conflict between the child and her grandmother is evident from the opening paragraphs. Isis is a child who is filled with the joy of life and yearns for the horizon, while her grandmother urges her to stop dreaming and instead work around the house. Isis has earned the nickname “Isis the joyful” among the neighbors, but her grandmother seeks to restrain the child’s exuberance and orders her to sit on the porch like a lady rather than romp with the dogs in the yard.
After the noon meal, Grandma falls asleep with her sewing in her lap. Isis and her brother Joel decide to shave the gray hairs on their sleeping grandmother’s chin. The children get into mischief and make a mess, lathering the dogs and the walls with shaving soap. Grandma, her face covered in lather, awakens to...
(The entire section contains 1041 words.)
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