Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 311

Isis is seen by most critics as an alter ego for Zora Neale Hurston, the author of "Drenched in Light." She is an eleven-year-old African American girl living in Eatonville, Florida. She is confident and enthusiastic, liking nothing better than to sit on her front porch and shout greetings to those passing by on the road. She dreams of glamor and adventure, and is often rebuked by her grandmother who urges her to focus on mundane every day tasks. As a static character, Isis remains consistently herself throughout the story, though the light that drenches her does influence those around her.

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A disciplinarian, Grandma Potts values every day chores such as raking the front yard over the idealism of her granddaughter. She is vigorous in encouraging Isis to perform such chores, even resorting at times to violent speech, if not action to compel her to do so. She is somewhat insecure in her authority however, as evidenced by her running away in terror when she suspects Isis of wanting to harm her. She values financial and material attributes over her principles of discipline. This can be seen in her gleeful acceptance of the five dollars offered her by Isis’s benefactors as payment for allowing her to visit the hotel with them, rather than returning to her chores.

Alone among the characters in the text, Isis's white benefactor does not speak in the vernacular, but rather in "educated English." She and her partner are as charmed as everyone else in the parade by Isis’s dancing, and she shows a real interest in her as a person, listening with enthusiasm to the fantasies Isis relates to her in the couple’s car. Though well-educated and financially secure, this character lacks the confidence and the joyous temperament of Isis, and seems to admire, even to envy the young girl because of this.

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