Themes And Symbolism In Sweat By Zora Neale Hurston

Good Essays
“Sweat” is a short story written by Zora Neale Hurston. It is a story where the husband, Syke, does terrible things to Delia, the wife. Such terrible things are being abusive, and having an affair with someone else. However, this does not hurt Delia any more than it could have. Delia possesses strong characteristics. She is a hard working person, who basically earns for both of their livelihoods, and also very courageous. In order to reveal Delia’s character, Hurston adds in symbols and allusions. There is symbolism present in this short story. In the beginning of the story, Hurston describes a whip as resembling a snake, “something long, round, limp and black fell upon her shoulders and slithered to the floor beside her. A great terror took hold of her” (705). When Delia sees the whip, she is frightened. Then, towards the end, she just sits there while her husband screams because of the snake biting him. As some people say, what goes around comes around. The snake also symbolizes evil at one point. One article states that there is some evil present in Delia. That evil does not show take over Delia because of her strong Christian faiths and beliefs (Hurd 2). Furthermore, the snake “represents a bosom serpent within Delia that forces her to acknowledge her ability…show more content…
Hurston puts many biblical allusions in this short story. Delia is a woman with strong faith. At one point , she even went to the extent of changing her church so she would not have to deal with Syke (Hurston 707). Sykes is said to “ have strayed from God’s path of righteousness” (Hurd 3). One allusion that contributes to Delia’s character is the following:
In “Sweat,” the Biblical story of Genesis has been rewritten to associate men-not women- with original sin, with the cause as well as the results of the fall of man; to attribute New Testament Christian values (meekness, sinlessness, forgiveness, and hard work) to a black woman (Carter
Get Access