Sweat By Zora Neale Hurston Summary

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Anna Funderburk Ms. Thompson 1st Block AP English October 27, 2014 Short Story Analysis of Sweat Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston is clearly a feminist tale. Opening with Delia working hard washing clothes to provide for herself and her freeloading husband, Hurston tells the story of a strong, black woman trapped within the confines of traditional household roles and a corrupt marriage. Delia is finally set free after her husband, Sykes, is dealt a dose of his own medicine and is bitten by a rattlesnake he let loose in their house in hopes to be rid of Delia. Not only does Zora Neale Hurston make evident the oppression African American women faced both within the household and out of it, but she also combats it with Delia, a woman who “sweated”…show more content…
“Something long, round, limp, and black fell upon her shoulders and slithered to the floor…she saw that it was the big bull whip her husband liked to carry” (Hurston) utilizes clear phallic imagery as a way to emphasize Sykes attempts to assert his manhood. “[Delia] seized the iron skillet from the stove and struck a defensive pose” (Hurston); a skillet is symbolic of female domesticity, and having Delia use it in her defense against Sykes furthers the theme of feminism evident in Sweat. Lillie Howard suggests that Delia’s “work makes him feel like less of a man” (67). While Sykes may be a physical threat to Delia, he has no actual power over her. She does all of the work and makes all of the money; therefore, she is in charge of their domestic sphere. As Sharon Jones writes, “Huston suggests that masculinity and male power are artificial forms of authority, or are at least highly constrained” (Bloom’s…show more content…
She intended for this work to be a symbol of feminist opposition, and in doing that, she brings to life the age-old proverb that what goes around comes around; those that oppress women will surely suffer for it just as Sykes did. The portrayal of Delia as a strong and courageous black woman in Sweat was a beacon of hope for African American women writers, and inspired them to depict non-stereotypical black women characters. Lorraine Bethel points out that throughout her works Hurston disrupted stereotypes of African American women portrayed by white males. Even after her death, Zora Neale Hurston continues to rock the
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