Literary Analysis: Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston Essay

1984 Words Jul 29th, 2013 8 Pages
“Drenched in Light”
In the short story “Drenched in Light” by Zora Neale Hurston, the author appeals to a broad audience by disguising ethnology and an underlying theme of gender, race, and oppression with an ambiguous tale of a young black girl and the appreciation she receives from white people. Often writing to a double audience, Hurston had a keen ability to appeal to white and black readers in a clever way. “[Hurston] knew her white folks well and performed her minstrel shows tongue in cheek” (Meisenhelder 2). Originally published in The Opportunity in 1924, “Drenched in Light” was Hurston’s first story to a national audience.
"Drenched in Light" is a story centered on a young girl named Isis Watts. Isis is faced with the
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They seem to have no genuine concern for Isis, even when she explains that she would rather kill herself than go back and be beaten again. They keep her for their own amusement, mockingly naming her “Madame Tragedy”.
For Grandma Potts the decision to let Isis go with strangers is simple on two levels. “Grandma Potts seems to be the natural product of the slavery tradition. Grandma bowing and dissembling, happily turns her granddaughter over to the woman … because the woman is white, and a member of that ruling class whom Grandma has grown accustomed to obliging without question” (Howard 150). Ironically, Grandma Potts is easily paid off by someone who would normally be seen as the traditional oppressor. Historically speaking we believe that a white person would be the oppressor over a black person. However in this situation, Helen is the one to save Isis from her Grandmother. “This exaggerates the theme of individual relationships as a White person saves an African-American person from oppression rather than subjecting her to it” (Williams). Unlike her grandmother, white people represent freedom to Isis. The Robinson brothers, white cattleman, often let Isis ride with them to get away from the “danger zone” (Hurston 10). As she rode through the sugar cane or tried to crack the bull whip she briefly forgot her life. Susan Meisenhelder

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