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.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

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