Literary Analysis: Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston Essay

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“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…show more content…
The story is full of conflict between Isis and her adversary Grandma Potts. Grandma represents tradition, instilling her principles at every turn, “[b]eing the only girl in the family, of course she must wash the dishes” (Hurston 11). Grandma believes that the girl’s place is at home, “within the community because [she] will never be appreciated by the dominant culture” (Williams 129). “You’se too ‘oomanish jumpin’ up in everybody’s face that pass” (Hurston 9). Isis is an oppressed female in the every sense of the word. She is forced to do chores while her male siblings are excused. She takes beatings for things while her brothers get away unharmed. Isis rebels for her own sense of power, goofing off, doing cart wheels, and day dreaming as soon as Grandma Potts has her back turned. Once Grandma falls asleep, Isis assumes the authority in the house. Shaving Grandma’s “straggling beard” (Hurston 12) includes the “mythic overtones of the cutting of another’s hair to gain control” (Davis 275). Isis’s behavior is consistent with Zora Neale Hurston’s ongoing themes of “the quest for female empowerment in a patriarchal world” (Davis 275). In this brief moment, Isis has a chance to push back against her Grandmother for all of her rules. Although she means her no harm, the act itself is literally taking a dominant hand to her Grandmother. This act of empowerment proves that little Isis Watts is more than capable of living up to her namesake. The white couple brings another

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