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Representations of Characters in Sweat Rewrite

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Polk 1

Mesha Polk

November 11, 2015

Literature 121

Professor Hodari

Representations of Characters in Sweat Rewrite

Zora Neale Hurston has a way of pulling the audience into her stories, making them compare themselves to characters she writes about. Sweat was no different. Delia, Sykes, and he snake will have you imagining scenarios in your head. Delia represented a woman scorned, who was turning over a new leaf. Sykes portrays a man who reaps what he sow, and the snake represents the karma in which is sown.

Delia Jones is a woman who is fed up with her husband is putting her through. She’s working her fingers to the bone washing clothes for white people. Yet, she is being treated like the very dirt she scrubbed from those clothes. Delia is often beaten, talked about, and cheated on by someone who she has loved for 15 years. Faith was the major reason that Delia stayed with her cruel husband, she assumed she was doing right by the Lord’s word. Several years of cruelty will wear a woman down, as it did with Delia. “Too much knockin’ will ruin any ‘oman. He done beat huh ‘nough tuh kill three women, let ‘lone change they looks” Elijah Moseley said to other townsmen. (Page 3) Being fed up will have you doing thing you normally wouldn’t do; such as stand up to your abuser. Delia’s first step in taking up for herself was when she seized an iron skillet from the stove during an argument with her husband when he suggested that she leaves the house. “Naw you won’t, that ole snaggle-toothed black woman you runnin’ with aint comin heah to pile up on mah sweat and blood.”(Page 2) It was at that moment that Delia took her power back. This gesture let him know that he’d never be able to walk over her again and that the new Delia was in the making.

Polk 2

Sykes is a man full of anger and hate towards Delia. “Syke Jones aint wuth de shot an’ powder hit would tek tuh kill ‘em. Not to huh he aint.”(Page 3) Said Moss, another townsmen. It seems as if all of the townsmen knows about Sykes abuse and infidelity. Sykes becomes intimate with a woman named Bertha who the townsmen Elijah Moseley describes as a “big black greasy Mogul”. (Page 3)Sykes’ infidelity is the last straw for Delia due to the fact that he wanted her to leave the house that she built and sweats for. Sykes reaps what is sown to him, because Bertha isn’t interested in a relationship with him, she just loves the money that he provides. Sykes hatred for Delia was so intense that he tried to scare her biggest fear, which ultimately leads to his own death; obtaining exactly was he has disseminated.



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