Analyzing How Complex Characters in "Drenched In Light" Develop Over the Course of the Story.

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SWBAT read and comprehend dialect and how Zora N. Hurston’s characters in “Drenched In Light” advance the plot and develop theme by reading an adapted story and answering teacher made questions.

Big Idea

Why is a petulant character known as "the joyful?"


10 minutes

The photo I chose to use for this lesson illustrates a happy, vivacious, and dancing African American girl not unlike the character Isis in this short story. 

I want to check for "prior knowledge" or maybe more accurately, "retention of information" that we covered the day before by asking students to write everything they remember about dialect using an organizer called "Words That Come to Mind."  It can give you a quick formative assessment of what students are comprehending in a non'threatening way.

Students work either in pairs or individually.  I check for understanding by calling on a random sampling of students.  I review the meaning briefly for those who where reluctant to answer.

Students are given an envelope and asked not to look inside.  This envelope will be used in my Wrap Up activity and is called "Envelope Please!"


Building Knowledge

20 minutes

Tone and Mood

I first review tone and mood how the author's attitude is reflected in the character's language and the situations presented by Hurston are important factors of the story's tone.

After reading the first tow pages of the story I ask students to share with a partner their feelings about the characters and what tone has been set for the main character, Isis?  

I give students an adapted version of Zora Neal Hurston's short story "Drenched in Light." After every three or four paragraphs there are embedded questions for the students to answer. Chunking smaller bits of the reading helps struggling readers access what is normally difficult text to understand.  

Character Development

I next review what students know about the story's protagonist, Isis "the joyful" by first asking basic understanding questions or level 1 questions such as, "How old is Isis?" and  "Where does this take place?" to higher order thinking or level 2 questions such as, "Compare Isis to her grandma Watts"  and "How can a petulant girl also be known as 'Isis the joyful'?" addressing the core standard RL.9-10.3.  I do this to first gain what I call cognitive confidence which is when students answer basic level questions to give them the confidence necessary to infer and creatively think beyond the service understanding.

I then review how students will work in pairs or individually to answer comprehension and analysis questions while reading the story together.


Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Either working alone, with a partner in paired reading, or in a group of three, students are asked to read the adapted version of story while answering questions integrated into the text that focus on how the characters in “Drenched In Light” advance the plot and develop its theme RL.9-10.2.  

I circulated among the students checking for understanding and keeping them focused on the task of reading, discussing and answering the questions.



Wrap Up

10 minutes


Moving around the room I ask one student at a time to take out the question that is written on a piece of paper and in their envelope and read it a loud.  They then answer the question. If someone disagrees they can raise their hand and offer a different response as required in common core speaking and listening standard SL.9-10.1.

One of the common core standards, RI.9-10.2, that I address in this lesson requires students to determine a central idea of a story and analyze its development over the course of the text. This wrap up activity gives information about the degree in which students understand the main idea as well as answering questions pertaining to the story's characters and tone.  Envelope Please is a "fun" formative assessment that creates some suspense when anticipating what the question will be asked.