The story starts with the protagonist, Delia, as she is sorting clothes at her home. She is wondering where her husband, Sykes is since he has her horse and working equipment. She feels something like a snake fall around her shoulders and screams, only to look up and see her husband standing over her with the bullwhip he uses to ride the horses. Delia is angry because her husband purposelly made it look like a snake. He does not seem concerned with her feelings and yells at her because she has white people’s clothes in the house, something which he’s told her he doesn’t like. She tries to ignore him as he kicks the neat pile she’d made all over. He seems determined to fight with her and keeps trying to provoke her with his words. Suddenly, tired of his verbal abuse, she screams about how hard she’s been working and picks up an iron skillet from the stove as if to hit him. He is surprised by this, especially since she usually just bottled up her anger. Sykes finally leaves his wife alone. He is sleeping with another woman, Bertha, and he spends all of her hard-earned money buying her gifts. All that keeps her happy is going to church and her well-maintained but small house. Some time has gone by and Delia sets out to do her washing and passes by a group of men sitting at a store. The men comment on how pretty Delia used to be and how it’s such a shame that she’s beaten so often and lost her good looks. They talk about Syke’s behavior with the Bertha woman and generally frown upon him. More time passes and the narrator lets us know that Bertha has been in town for three months. One afternoon, Sykes comes home with a box and tells Delia to look inside. Nestled within the box is a giant rattlesnake that Dykes caught. He refuses to get rid of it, even though it is driving Delia mad. Although it had just had a large meal when Sykes caught it, it begins to grow hungry again and always rattles around, scaring Delia to death. One night, however, Delia...
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