Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” is about a woman, Delia who is physically and emotionally abused by her husband, Sykes, whose actions she struggles to overcome towards her. Through all the abuse, Delia takes pride in her hard work and her religion. In this story, Hurston uses religions and moral symbolism that controls the character’s actions throughout the plot.
Delia is a hard working woman who uses her faith in God to guide and protect her from her husband’s physical and emotional abuse. She, as a protagonist, is physically weak but yet spiritually strong. Sykes, in the story, tormented Delia in many ways throughout the story. One incident was with the bull horn when he tried to scare Delia while she was sorting the white clothes. Sykes also kicks all the clothes she had sorted all over the floor. Through all the pain and torment she goes through with Sykes, she still goes to church on Sundays and pray and come home go back to working around the house.
Sykes on the other hand, who is completely opposite to Delia’s character, seems to oppose Delia in his every word and action. He, as an antagonist to Delia, is physically strong and has no faith in God. He is very abusive towards his wife and takes advantage of Delia’s hard work by spending her money on Bertha, his lover. He doesn’t go to church with Delia, and makes fun of her attending church and washing clothes and continuously makes verbal threats towards her throughout the story.
Above all the evilness from Sykes, Delia’s strength lies in her religion and her humility towards her husband, in the end, victorious over his brutal strength and attitude. In the beginning of the story, Delia was very tolerant of her husband’s pranks and malicious threats. Being strong towards...