Spousal Abuse in Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston

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'You sho' is one aggravatin' nigger woman!'; this is only one example of the abuse in Zora Neale Hurston's short story, 'Sweat'. Spousal abuse is a very common issue in today's society. Hurston represents this form of abuse through the way the husband talks to his wife and the way he treats her.

Delia is a hard-working woman who is very obedient and faithful to her husband, Sykes. Through harsh words, he cuts her down about her work of washing white folks clothes and her looks saying that he 'hates skinny woman';. Delia's appearance resembles her hard work, with 'knuckly hands'; from using the washboard. Delia has put many hard- earned tears, blood, and sweat into her house while supporting Sykes' habits and taking all the abuse he could dish out. On many occasions Sykes has cut down Delia and her kind nature, even to her religious beliefs, accusing her of being a 'hipocrite'; because she worked on the Sabbath day.

Sykes not only abused Delia emotionally but also physically. One night after an argument between the two where Delia actually had the courage to stand up to him, Sykes got into to bed and threatened that, '[he] oughter mash [her] in [her] mouf fuh drawing dat skillet [on him].'; After they been married only a short few months he gave her the first beating. Others in town knew of the abuse Delia suffered from. One gentlemen from town made the comment one day, '[Sykes] done beat [Delia] 'nough tuh kill three women.'; Many people in the town had little to no respect for Sykes because he beat Delia and Sykes even tried making offers with presents to some of the other mens' wives.

Besides physical and emotional abuse Delia had to put up with mental abuse from her husband. At one time, Sykes put a snake into a soap box to scare Delia. Knowing that Delia had an enormous fear of snakes, not to mention anything as small as an earthworm. Other mental and emotional abuse was that Sykes ran another woman in town, making it known to Delia and everyone else in town. He made it no secret when he was going to see Bertha, his mistress. The only thing Delia ever said about his affair was, 'that ole snaggle-toothed black woman you runnin' with ain't comin' heah to pile up on mah sweat and blood.

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