Delia's Use Of Symbolism In Short Story 'Sweat'

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The authors use of symbols as a literary tool to give deeper meaning to the story using an object or event to represent something else entirely. In the short story “Sweat” the author uses several characters as symbols. Delia is the hard working woman in a loveless marriage, and a brutal husband. She finds sweat on her brow, most of the time while washing white folk’s clothes and picking up and delivering their laundry. Whether there is rain or stifling heat, Delia drives into town with her donkey and cart doing what she has done for the last fifteen years in order to make a living. One symbol is the snake that symbolizes wickedness and evil and is a recurring symbol throughout the story. In the beginning of the story, we find Sykes scaring Delia with a bullwhip knowing it resembles a snake that induces terror in Delia. “Just then something long, round, limp, and black fell upon her shoulders and slithered to the floor beside her. A great terror took hold of her.” (564). Sykes was on a crusade to rid himself of his wife. He uses snakes to intimidate Delia, and the snake becomes more agitated and deadly as it grows hungrier; a sign of coming drama. “Look in de box dere Delia, Ah done brung yah somethin’!” (569). ”You take dat rattlesnake’ way from heah!” After Delia entered the house and…show more content…
It is a symbol of rootedness and the assurance of peace and calm in her difficult life. The chinaberry tree might also symbolize her womanhood and her fertility. This tree was not a native Florida plant but was considered an ornamental tree brought from outside of Florida. “She could scarcely reach the chinaberry tree, where she waited in the growing heat while inside she knew the cold river was creeping up and up to extinguish that eye which must know by now that she knew.” (572). Delia had gone back to the house to see the condition of her husband, and all she saw was one eye pleading with her to
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