In “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurtson, the implied thesis that was utilized was that good will ultimately triumph over evil, even in an ironic manner. To either prove or disprove this thesis, a literary criticism was conducted, gathering scholarly opinions for other writers on this topic. By gathering the opinions, it was evident that other scholars agreed with Hurston’s thesis, indicating that good does in fact triumph over evil, even in an ironic sense or manner.
To represent both good and evil, Hurston used a snake in the story. Traditionally, the snake is one of the oldest mythological symbols in history, and it is used to show the dual aspects of good and evil. Snakes have also represented rebirth, healing, sexuality, transformation, immortality, guardianship, poison, and vindictiveness, to mention a few of the things they represent.
Using the snake to illustrate the author’s thesis was an intelligent move by Hurston. Instead of just writing in a literal sense about good and evil, she used a snake to represent both sides. In the snake’s decision to defend and protect Delia, it showed the triumph of good over evil. Since Hurston, there have been other scholars who have expressed their own opinions about the themes and symbolism used in “Sweat.” Some scholars agree whole-heartedly with Hurston, while others partially agree and offer additional insight to the themes that are present in the story.
One scholar, John Lowe, both supported and added to Hurtson’s thesis. In support of it, Lowe described that irony was a major part of African-American humor, which served as the foundation for Hurston’s writing. She was known for writing “…within a context of cultural diversity and rhetorical and stylistic sophistication” (Seidel 160). Therefore, the traditional messages that were conveyed through her writings were done so from a culturally diverse perspective, giving her messages even greater meaning to readers.
Lowe then added to her thesis by
Cited: Carpio, Glenda R. & Sollors, Werner. “The Newly Complicated Zora Neale Hurston; Three Stories Never Before Reprinted Underscore Another Side of the Harlem Renaissance Author. The Chronicle of Higher Education 57.18 (2011): 1. Print. Hurston, Zora Neale. “ Sweat “,Literature: A Pocket Anthology. Ed. Gwynn, R.S. New York: Longman, 2012. 135-147. Print. Lupton, Mary Jane. “Zora Neale Hurston and the Survival of the Female.” The Southern Literary Journal 15.1 (1982): 45. Seidel, Kathryn. “Jump at the Sun: Zora Neal Hurston’s Cosmic.” The Mississippi Quarterly 49.1 (1995): 160. Print. Siegel, Naomi. “Revealing the Details that are Daily Life.” The New York Times 26 Jan. 2003: 9. Print.