Short Story Sweat By Zora Neale Hurston

1280 Words6 Pages
There are many hidden messages Zora Neale Hurston’s short story, “Sweat.” Delia, the main character, is mistreated by her husband, Sykes. He abuses her and cheats on her; meanwhile she is working many hours doing hard labor to pay for the house. It becomes very clear that one theme of the story is about abusive marriages. Often, the meaning of some events are overlooked, but play a crucial meaning to the story. It is also important for the reader to understand the setting of the story to know what was accepted by the culture during that time period and location. In Hurston’s writing, we can see how Delia is able to work through her abusive marriage and continue to stand up for herself.
To begin, it is important to understand the setting of
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They are married, and it was obvious they do not get along. Sykes keeps abusing his wife hoping that she would leave the house to him and another girl, but Sykes pays no bills for the house. Of course, this infuriates Delia. Sykes then tries to have Delia killed with a real snake. It is extremely ironic when Sykes is killed by the snake he had set in place for Delia. This was fate playing in role of Delia because Sykes did not do any work for the house, or provide for his wife, so God takes care of the situation for Delia. Chuck Jackson, whose research is on twentieth-century African American short stories, “The end of Sykes is not merely the cleansing away of oppressive male violence, for what is Sykes but a clever troping off of the word psyche,” (Jackson 641). From this, Jackson is explaining how Sykes was not only an abusive husband, but also bringing out his inner man from that time period. Men were dominant in relationships in the 1920s and had full control over what happened. Abuse in marriages were not solved from the death of Sykes, but it helped Delia with her personal experience. It was fairly common back then for men to be abusive in their relationships, but all the women were able to do back then was work through it and let God handle the problem. This was the culture back then in the south and there was very little one can do to change that. Domestic violence, as bad as it is, was apart of their culture back then and was
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