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"sweat" by Zora Neal Hurston

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At the time when African Americans writers were struggling, Zora Neale Hurston was realized by her fresh and utterly distinctive language of text. Her style was not so much invented, but it is cleverly brewed together with the poetry of black folk speech. "Sweat", one of the most enduring of Hurston's work, explored many levels of martial conflicts and female exploitation. This story is around Delia, a symbol of Southern black woman in the early 20th century. Delia, an abused wife, has many conflicts deep inside which make her change: from being abused to defend, from shouting helplessly to anger then to a scary calm, and from accepting to revenge.

The story began with the picture of Sunday's night after church, at eleven o'clock in the evening. Delia was still working. As a washwoman, Monday's morning was important for her because she would return all the clean clothes and earn her money. That money was to pay for the house, her food, and the pony which Sykes, her husband, had gone with. After 15 years of marriage, Delia had lost all hopes in Sykes. The countless beatings and painful acts of Sykes had brought her to her limit. Sykes had gotten home, and as usual, the fight happened between two former lovers. Sykes's appearance by a scary scene was like the evil. He frightened Delia by his whip, then he was bent over with laughter at her frighten. Getting used to Sykes abusing, Delia just continued her working. As if Sykes hoped, prayed for the fight, he kicked all the clothes together and stepped on the whitest piles of things. One could think that doing these things brought to Sykes some relieves and satisfaction when he saw Delia's pain and suffer. The difference about this confrontation though, was that Sykes did not strike Delia, as what usually happens. Delia picked up a metal skillet and threatened to defend herself from her husband as he cowed in fear of being hit. This new approach from Delia, involving a new intimidation, shows how her unnecessary sweat and hard work had gotten to be too much. The act of seizing a skillet from the stove to protect herself symbolizes how in essence, Delia is trying to defend her home. The skillet is a fragment of the house, and as she stands in her shielding stance, she is using her home to protect her home.

As the story flew, you could now understand why Hurston chose a title "sweat". It was the reason to make the woman, Delia, stood up and fight for herself as she was shouting helplessly in the fight with Sykes: "Looka heah, Sykes, you done gone too fur. Ah been married to you fifteen years, and Ah been takin' in washin' fur fifteen years. Sweat, sweat, sweat! Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat!" All she loved, and earned by her sweat is her home. Not matter what happened to her, she would never let anybody, especially Sykes took away her Eden. When she realized Sykes's plans to take the house from her and use it for himself and his mistress Bertha, she refused to let that happen. She became anger, furious to take an action. However, after that, she changed into the scary calm. She changed from being constantly frightened of Sykes to being indifferent to his actions.



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