Discussing “The Fire and the Cloud”

From the “The Complete Stories” collection.

This story appears to be an excerpt from Hurston's novel, Moses, Man of the Mountain.

This story captures the moment when Moses makes his transition from life to death. His time on the mountain he never returned from. Hurston uses a dialog between a lizard and Moses to convey this story.

While this story is based on the biblical story, it does not use the verse style used in other stories by Hurston.

So Moses is on the mountain looking at his grave. He looks back on the journey that brought him here and the people he has brought to the promised land. Hurston uses the dialog between Moses and the lizard to explore Moses' feelings and thoughts at this pivotal point of time.

Reading this story, I got vivid pictures in my head. I am still very impressed that Hurston is able to do this while using so few words. Reading this short story will make you want to read her book Moses, Man of the Mountain.

You also can see the influence of the folktales that Hurston listened to and collected. The ability of animals and insects being able to speak with people gives me a folktale feeling when I read this story.

This story will be of particular interest to people who are interested in retellings of the biblical Moses story. Based on this short story, Hurston makes this story more relatable.

More discussions of Hurston's short stories.