There are many similarities and differences which set apart and bring together the main ideas of the short story, “Drenched in Light”1924, and the novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” 1937, each written by Zora Neale Hurston. “Drenched in Light” is a short story which Zora displays the outrageous relationship between a young fantasist African American girl named Isis and her domineering grandmother in the early 19th century. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” begins with a similar concept, a young, aspiring African American girl who was raised by a protective and nurturing grandmother in the 19th century. The settings of the stories both take place in the south, and In Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora changes the role of a grandmother who wants less of her granddaughter to a grandmother who wants more in her granddaughter; she also raises the level of maturity within the main characters. The stories have great similarities and differences. One item that is quite symbolic in both books is the gateposts which symbolize change and epiphany in the girls lives. In The beginning of “Drenched in Light”, Isis leans upon a gatepost and embraces the road beyond it, the road as she interprets it, to her freedom.
She describes it as a “gleaming shell road that led to Orlando” (Hurston1). Isis dreamed constantly of one day going beyond that gatepost, but only dreamed of change. However in “Their Eyes Were Watching God” Janie, at her grandmothers’ gatepost, actually changed her life, for that was where she was when she “let Johnny Taylor kiss her” (Hurston10), and that was when her grandmother started treating her like an adult. In “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, Zora creates a more dreamy relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. Janie’s grandmother tells her “nothing can’t stop you from wishin’” (Hurston16). She believed in Janie, loved her and therefore let Janie know, she could be anyone she wanted to be. In Drenched in Light, Zora creates a distinct relationship between the two. For example, Isis’s grandmother loves her granddaughter yet, in a more meticulous and indirect way. She assigns her daughter chores and teaches her how to be a lady expecting nothing more from Isis than to become just like her.
Most of the time in the story she could be found yelling at Isis or correcting her, telling her to, “git ova heah”, “stop dat” or “put yo’ knees together”(Hurston2). Janie and Isis have similar traits pertaining to where they come from and how they think. Not only were they both raised in the south in the 19th century. They were also each aspiring children, who thought variously about the future. In one part of “Their Eyes Were Watching God” Janie lies underneath a pear tree and “seeks confirmation of the voice and vision and finds answers” (Hurston19). Janie dreams under this pear tree of the future and what life beholds. In “Drenched in Light”, Isis crawls under a table and envisions herself “riding white horses with flaring pink nostrils to the horizon” and “gazing over the edge of the world”(Hurston2). Isis believes in the future just like Janie; they are both full of aspiration.
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” could be considered as an improvement of “Drenched in Light” in many ways. Zora may have been trying to make a story which, instead of having a child who was treated only strictly during childhood, contained a girl who was treated lovingly and semi strictly watched at the same time. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” could also be assumed as an extension to “Drenched in Light” because it goes on after those childhood moments to show the actual future, Rather than simply dreaming it. Therefore, in “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, Zora further explains the difficult life of the 19th century African American girl, rather than only choosing to address one part.