“Sweat” by Zora Neal Hurston is one simple yet powerful story that aims to reveal the plight of women through Delia. Delia turns out to be an empowered woman who has built her own home, handles her family’s finances, works hard, and takes pleasure in the results of her hard work. The fascinating fact about Delia whom I believe represents women in general, is that she was able to establish and maintain a home despite being married to an inconsiderate husband who only brought a longing for the flesh instead of love into the relationship (699).
In a nutshell, Delia’s husband, Sykes has plans to kill her to pave for way for his second marriage to a plump woman named Bertha. He intends to achieve this by placing a rattlesnake in their house. The story develops with a twist of events whereby the snake ends up killing Sykes ridding Delia of her tribulations that have haunted her for her entire fifteen years of marriage.
First and foremost it is imperative to note that Delia was a quite a diligent woman. She was the backbone and engine of her household. In “Sweat” by Hurston, Joe Lindsay said,“Hot or col, rain or shine, jes ez regu’lar ez de weeks roll roun’ Delia carries ‘em and fetches ‘em on sat’ day,“ (700). This testimony given by village men is a true account for what a hardworking woman Delia was. She was thoughtful in her work, conscientious in nature. Hurston explains that she would sort the clothes to be washed into small heaps according to color (698). We later learn through her argument with Sykes that it was her who paid for the house and even fed them as evidenced when she said,” Ah been takin’ in washin’ for fifteen years. Sweat, sweat, sweat!. . . mahtub of suds is filled yo’ belly…mah sweat is done paid for this house and ah reckon Ah kin keep on sweatin in it”(699). This resonates soundly with the views of Peter J. Hancock who made an observation that [Sri Lankan women], have formed the backbone of an enormous economic shift toward export-oriented industrialization . . . . [Bringing] about benefits, particularly to families and households where stable incomes are usually non-existent(1).
Delia was a round character, at first she comes out as being docile. She took up numerous insults, disrespect and worst of all physical violence from her arrogant cruel and barbaric husband. She has bore with the mentioned lifestyle for about fifteen years. Zora Neal Hurston says that Delia had brought love to the union and he had brought a longing for the flesh. Two months after the wedding, he had given her first of the many to come brutal beatings (699). This trait turns out to be one of her major flaws that cause her to suffer a great deal of problems in her tormenting marriage.
Later on, Delia was able to change to an assertive woman.” She seized the iron skillet from the...