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“Sweat” Research Paper
Characteristics of human despair and loss of family values can be evidenced by examining Delia’s physical, verbal, and emotional abuse throughout Hurston’s “Sweat”.

We are most aware of the mental abuse endured by Delia throughout the story. We are immediately introduced to it in the beginning of the story when Sykes, Delia’s husband, frightens Delia with a bullwhip, making her think that it is a snake (a creature which Delia is deathly afraid of). “Just then something long, round, limp and black fell upon her shoulders and slithered to the floor beside her. A great terror took hold of her…Then she saw that it was the big bull whip her husband liked to carry when he drove. She lifted her eyes to the door and saw him standing there bent over with laughter at her fright. She screamed at him. ‘Sykes, what you throw dat whip on me like dat? You know it would skeer me--looks just like a snake, an' you knows how skeered Ah is of snakes. ’‘Course Ah knowed it! That's how come Ah done it.’” This show of mental terror only gives us an insight of what Delia has experienced over her 15-year marriage to Sykes. Towards the climax of the story, Sykes once again plays on Delia’s fear of snakes when he actually brings one home with the hope of Delia’s fear overcoming her and leaving the house. Another display of mental abuse would be in the case of Sykes affair with his mistress, Bertha. Sykes is so messed up that he wants Delia to know about his affair and he wants her to know that he does not love her and that he is cheating on her. “Just then Delia drove past on her way home, as Sykes was ordering magnificently for Bertha. It pleased him for Delia to see”. Human despair plays a huge role in this in the fact that Delia has lost all hope for her marriage, and only stays with Sykes because of her emotional attachment to him. Psychologist Rana Sampson explains a theory called the psychological entrapment theory; “the woman feels she...
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