Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston

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Marriage is a concept that society takes extremely inaccurately. It is not something one can fall back from. Once someone enter it there is no way back. In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” she tells the story of Delia, a washerwoman whom Sykes, her husband, mistreats while he ventures around with other women and later attempts to kill Delia to open a way for a second marriage with one of his mistresses. By looking at “Sweat” through the feminist and historical lens Hurston illustrates the idea of a sexist society full of men exploiting and breaking down women until men dispose of them.
Delia’s economic state was not the greatest. She had to make a lot of sacrifices just to provide for Sykes and herself.
“Sunday night after church, she sorted and put the white things to soak. It saved her almost a half-day’s start… She saw that Sykes had kicked all of the clothes together again… But she walked calmly around him and commenced to re-sort the things… He snorted scornfully. ‘Yeah, you just come from de church house on a Sunday night, but heah you is gone to work on them clothes. You ain’t nothing but a hypocrite. One of them amen-corner Christians – Sing, whoop, and shout, then come home and wash white folks’ clothes on the Sabbath.’” (Hurston 1-3).

While Delia has been working all night long; the man of the house arrives and does not acknowledge her exceptionally done work. Instead, he torments her about the fact she’s working on a Sabbath and calls her a hypocrite. He expects her to maintain him and treat him like her overlord.
“Early on, the narrative establishes that Sykes both physically and mentally torments Delia. Scolding him for scaring her by sliding across her knee a bullwhip that she thinks is a snake, Delia say...

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...nd back on those women.
Our society expects women to generally serve men, to please men with their beauty, to be that innocent mind that depends men tremendously depend on, to be the helpmate any men would wish to have, and to be the girly woman we men dream of having. That said, when looking at “Sweat” through the feminist and historical lens, Hurston explains the idea of a sexist society full of men exploiting and breaking down women until they dispose them.

Works Cited

➢ Champion, Laurie. "Socioeconomics in Selected Short Stories of Zora Neale Hurston." Gale Artemis Literary Sources (2001).

➢ Hurd, Myles Raymond. "What Goes Around Comes Around: Characterization, Climax, and Closure in Hurston's 'Sweat'." Gale Artemis Literary Sources (1993).

➢ Scott, Cynthia C. "Zora Neale Hurston's Sweat: Character and Metaphor in the Short Story." Yahoo! Voices (2007).
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