Symbolism In Sweat By Zora Neale Hurston

675 Words3 Pages
“He picked up the whip and glared at her” (Hurston 1). That is a sentence from the short story, “Sweat,” by Zora Neale Hurston. That sentence basically describes the relationship between Delia and her husband, Sykes for the past few years. “Sweat” is about a washerwoman and husband and their abusive relationship. Her husband is upset that she cleans the “white folks” clothes in their home. He is also takes advantage of Delia and has an affair with another woman. The abuse gets worse as Sykes tries to kill her with a rattlesnake; but he fails. Hurston uses biblical allusion and the examination of good and evil to show Delia’s likeness to Jesus, Sykes conniving nature and similarity to the devil, and how Sykes set Delia free. Delia is similar…show more content…
Sykes was planning to kill Delia with a rattlesnake, but he failed. The rattlesnake bit him instead and killed him. Snakes are usually symbols for the devil, and when “Sykes brings in the snake, he is essentially bring the devil to Delia,” (Champion). He called out to Delia, but she ignored him, for she knew that Sykes’s reign was over. “Delia, Delia!” (Hurston 9) She could hear Sykes calling in a “most despairing tone as one who expected no answer” (Hurston 9). Sykes’s call out to Delia is his last ditch effort before he dies; but she is patiently waiting for him to die. She no longer has to worry about what he will do; because he is gone forever. “Sykes’s death was an enlightening and freeing experience for Delia” (Puchalik), and she can now live her life happily.
Delia and Sykes’s relationship is similar to the relationship of Jesus and the devil. Jesus does the work that He is called to do, but the devil tries to stop him. When Jesus was crucified and resurrected, he defeated the devil. Though it was Sykes that physically dies, Delia’s fear also dies with him. The story shows how life can be sometimes. There may be a moment where someone is being persecuted; but they must remember that if they stand strong, the problem will soon take care of
Open Document