Delia and Sykes

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Compare and Contrast Analysis: Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Huston’s short story entitled “Sweat”is about an abusive husband and his submissive wife. Sykes, the husband, wants to kill his wife, Delia, because he wants to end their marriage and marry another woman. He tries to frighten her to death by releasing a snake in the cabin that they share. The story portrays characters that are good and evil. In Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat,” Delia is a hard working protagonist that holds on to her faith in God, which contrasts sharply with Sykes evil actions.

In a story of roughly seven pages Hurston manages to create vivid and complex characters. Delia is a simple washerwoman who spends her days washing clothes on the kitchen floor. This is seen on the first episode where Delia tries to sort out the clothes to soak: But she was a washwoman… So she collected the soiled clothes on Saturday when she returned the clean things. Sunday night after church, she sorted and put the white things to soak (Hurston 530). From here it is apparent that Delia is industrious, as she takes “a great deal of pride and pleasure in her work,” (Scott 1). This is seen on the way she spends her Saturdays returning the clean clothes and collecting the dirty ones that are about to be washed. The following day, she would sort out the clothes and soak them, which reflect her orderliness in doing her job. By being patient, diligent, and orderly, she is one character that reflects good nature.

Delia reflects good nature on the way she is religiously devoted to the Church. This is evidently seen when she stated: “Oh well, whatever goes over the Devil’s back, is got to come under his belly. Sometime or ruther, Sykes, like everybody else, is gointer reap his sowing” (Hurston 531). This shows that Delia uses her faith in God to guide and protect her from her husband’s physical and emotional abuse. She has wanted to influence Sykes and make him a better person, but for...
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