Essay on Zora Neale Hurston 's Sweat

Essay on Zora Neale Hurston 's Sweat

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While beginning the second section of Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat”, the audience may
wonder what a few old cane-chewing men have to do with the plot of the story. However, these
men begin to reveal otherwise unknown information, giving the audience details on Delia and
Sykes’ relationship. Without the second section, this information would remain a secret to the
audience, and Hurston telling her audience this information using another character would be
difficult. Although the men seem to enjoy sitting around, discussing what goes on between
Sykes and Delia, none of them have the courage to take action, even when Sykes appears
before them with another woman.
Hurston includes the minor characters in her story to give the audience information about
Delia’s relationship with Sykes that would otherwise remain unknown. It is not important for the
audience to know each minor character individually, so the characters are grouped together as
“village men” (106). The audience forgets names by the time the second or third man is talking
because it is not their names that is important, but rather the information they give. Not only
does the audience receive information from what the men say, but also from their actions,
specifically when Sykes shows up on Joe Clarke’s porch with his “hunk uh liver wid hair on it”
(108). The moment Sykes appears, the other men quickly grow silent and, more than likely,
uncomfortable.
Without the men of the town, the audience would not know the things that they do when
the second section comes to a close. Moseley lets the audience know that Sykes “done beat huh
‘nough tuh kill three women, let ‘lone change they looks” (106). With this being said, the
audience should realize that Sykes’ abusi...


... middle of paper ...


...nd. The minor characters do not
seem as minor as they did at the beginning of Section II once details of the relationship begin to
unfold. Had there been no second part of the story, the audience would miss a great deal of
important information, and the author may have had more of a challenge finding a way to let the
audience in on Sykes’ and Delia’s past. Sure, Hurston could have included a brief paragraph
summing their history up, but including this second section with the men of the town gives the
story more substance and interest. Lastly, the fact that the men do nothing to take action against
the elephant in the room tells the audience even more than what directly comes out of the men’s
mouths. There is no doubt that these minor characters, along with their words and actions (or
lack thereof), give “Sweat” more substance, thus making it a better piece.

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