"Sweat" Analysis

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“Sweat” The short story “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston is about a woman who seems stuck in an abusive relationship. However, I feel the underlying message of the story is female empowerment. Sykes, Delia’s husband, is abusive to her physically, verbally, and emotionally throughout their entire relationship. Sykes treats Delia with little to no respect and still expects her to take care of him and provide for him. Even through all the mistreatment and unhappiness, I feel Delia is an empowered character. Delia works hard, takes care of her home, finances, and is proud of the results, “Mah sweat done paid for this house and Ah reckon Ah kin keep on sweatin’ in it” (138). Delia takes pride in all of her hard work and that gives her strong presence even through all of her troubles. Another tribute to Delia’s character is how she seemed nonchalant about her husbands continuing affair with Bertha. Sykes did not keep it a secret when he went to see Bertha and the only thing Delia says about the affair is, “that ole snaggle-toothed black woman you runnin’ with ain’t commin’ heah to pile up on mah sweat and blood” (138). Although it may seem as though she is defeated and Sykes does as he pleases whether Delia likes it or not, I believe she shows her strength by protecting her home that she has worked so hard for. By “putting her foot down”, she is saying she does not care about his affair but he will not do it in her home. At the end of the story, I believe Delia receives the greatest empowerment by having the choice to save Sykes or let him die. I feel Hurston also implies karma at the end of the story when Sykes dies by a bite from the snake that he brought home in order to scare

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