Sweat By Zora Neale Hurston

1169 Words5 Pages

Struggle is human. Sometimes the universe gives out more than people think they can handle. However, if they keep fighting, a break will come. In the 1920s, prejudice was a significant problem in America. People of color had to work twice as hard just to receive less opportunities than the average white man. Women also had a similar experience with being viewed as inferior to men. During this time when no one would address the issues at hand, a brave woman refused to compromise her own morals and wrote about a black woman's journey with abuse. Zora Neale Hurston, in the story "Sweat," uses characterization to reveal the process of finding one's voice, and to show the extent of discrimination amongst black individuals. Every conflict in Sweat …show more content…

Sykes' is an example of a man who needs to be the dominant figure in his marriage. Hurston uses imagery to convey Sykes' need for power, "She lifted her eyes to the door and saw him standing there bent over with laughter at her fright" (1022). His position above Delia symbolizes his dominance over her in that moment. Sykes manipulates Delia into feeling inferior because he is insecure of his own ability to provide. Taking these insecurities out in such a toxic way creates instability in their marriage. Fred M. Fetrow states that this exploitation is a way of foreshadowing the rest of the story: "Her announced fear of snakes, and his pleasure in her fear sets the tone of their troubled marriage and anticipates the coming conflict" (2). The residents of Delia's town are all aware of the abuse, but don't take any actions. The village men's conversation about Sykes ended with: "...an' we oughter kill 'im," Old Man Anderson advised. A grunt of approval went around the porch. But the sun was melting their civic virtue…" (Hurston 1025). It would be dangerous for Delia to fight back against Sykes' behavior, but another man would be able to do that much easier. The men on the porch have the ability to confront Sykes and other violent husbands. Ira Milne analyzed, "...Joe demonstrates in his commentary about men who abuse their wives like "a joint uh sugar-cane," throwing them away …show more content…

As her first act of rebellion,"She seized the iron skillet from the stove and struck a defensive pose, which act surprised him greatly, coming from her" (Hurston 1023). Sykes had become comfortable in his position of power, but Delia was able to switch those for once. Her time of redemption quickly escalates to Sykes' karmic retribution. Suzanne D. Green wrote,"...she has already taken control of her destiny through her handling of Sykes, and that her newfound freedom will give her the inner strength to address a larger issue in her life" (117). With Sykes out of the picture, Delia was free to be herself again. However, letting go of her husband was not an easy thing to do. Even after all of the abuse and manipulation, she still felt sorry for him. Hurston describes this moment: "A surge of pity too strong to support bore her away from that eye that must, could not, fail to see the tubs. He would see the lamp. Orlando with its doctors was too far" (1030). Delia knew she could not save Sykes, so she left. Robert C. Evans brings up a different view of her actions: "...some critics have suggested that Delia, ironically, takes on some of her husband’s evil personality by the end of the story" (Evans 276). There was no way for her to help Sykes at his time of death and Delia knew that he didn't deserve her comfort. She was able to stand up against her husband, but she left the final

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