A Character Analysis of Delia Jones in “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston
As a lonely woman facing the evil of her husband Sykes, Delia Jones can be viewed as the epitome of strength and strong- will. She works hard as a wash woman to support her family and household but is still referred to by her husband as “one aggravatin’ nigger woman” (par. 8). Jones is forced to deal with mental, physical, and verbal abuse all at the hands of her husband. Sykes greets her at the door with anger and chastisement. As an African American poor woman Delia Jones deals with the struggle of maintaining a household, constant abuse, and utter unhappiness with her life and marriage.
A sole bread winner and hard worker, Jones has a routine of how and when she washes the white people’s clothes each week. Much to the disapproval of her husband she carries on anyhow as she is expected to pay bills and a mortgage on her own. The reader can seamlessly tell that Jones is tired and unhappy with the way that things are being done in her home. However, she finds contentment in knowing that the wrong her husband is doing to her will come back to him. She voices that belief in saying “oh well, whatever goes over the Devil’s back, is got to come under his belly” (par. 26)
Having to deal with mental, physical, and verbal abuse made Delia a strong woman. It is evident from the story that Sykes would go to great lengths to chastise and bother her. Jones still refused to let herself be consumed by his actions and continued to work. She was determined. Sykes consistently found things to argue with her about and belittle her for in an attempt to convince her to leave her home.
A husband who openly cheats on his wife can cause tremendous amounts of turmoil. Another issue that met Delia head on had to deal with infidelity in her marriage. An already unhappy woman in an unhappy marriage, this was not a shock. Jones seemed almost invincible in a sense as she juggled her work with her personal life,...
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