plays a rather large role in Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat.” The setting in a
Spring night in a small black town in Florida. The story begins with a conflict
between Delia and her abusive husband Sykes. Sykes arrives home and sees Delia
sorting the “whites” clothes and he starts trouble with her. Delia, a very
religious woman, finds her inner strength and continues with daily life despite
the abuse, physical, emotional, and verbal, she receives. Could it be Delia’s
devout faith in God that keeps her going on and gives her the will to live
while she endures Sykes abuse?
suffered physical, emotional and verbal abuse at the hands of her husband
Sykes. Sykes made it his personal mission to humiliate his wife in public by
openly and publicly cheating on her. He paraded his girlfriend all over the
town and even ensured that Delia saw him her. Sykes’ girlfriend even
disrespected Delia’s home by arriving at the gate of the house in search of
Sykes. Sykes went as far as tormenting her with a rattlesnake kept in a box
near their kitchen door, knowing very well how terribly frightened Delia was of
was a terrible human being. He spent all his earning on who knows what. He paid
his girlfriends’ room and a local house and paid for everything she wanted. Not
one dime of his earnings ever made it home. Everything he and Delia had was
because Delia worked for it and she worked very hard. Their home was paid for
by Delia’s work and Sykes has the audacity of promising his girlfriend he would
kick Delia out so that she could move into the house.
could any woman put up with the physical, emotional and verbal abuse and the
disrespect that Sykes was putting Delia through? “Two months after the wedding,
he had given her the first brutal beating.” (Hurston). Delia had been suffering
at the hands of Sykes since the beginning of their marriage. How could she be
strong enough to endure this abuse?
devotion to her religion is what kept her going. Her devotion made her strong,
it gave her hope, and kept her fighting for her life, the life she deserved.
Delia’s hatred toward Sykes becomes more and more noticeable as the story
trails on. After Sykes brings the rattlesnake home and leaves it in a box near
the kitchen door her hatred is more visible. “Ah hates you tuh de same degree
dat Ah useter love yuh.” (Hurston).
finally explodes and tells Sykes she hates him. She can no longer hide her
hatred toward him. She hated him so much she refused to be in the same church
as him. She refused to be near that man while she was in church praising and
taking part in her religious sacraments. Her religion was sacred, and she
refused to allow Sykes to taint it.
de reason Ah got mah letter fum de church an’ moved mah membership tuh
Woodbridge-so Ah don’t haf tuh take no sacrament wid yuh.” (Hurston). Delia’s
love and devotion to her religion granted her the strength to tell Sykes she
hated him and wanted nothing to do with him. She wanted him gone from her life
and her house. That next morning Delia travels to church, finally pleased that
she doesn’t have to argue with Sykes about going, and she returns happy and
full of joy.
devotion is what kept her fighting and strong, even after Sykes tried to kill her
with the rattlesnake he let loose in her laundry hamper knowing she would go straight
to the hamper after getting home from church. Even after Sykes is attacked by the
same rattlesnake he used to torture her, Delia calls upon God. “Mah Gawd fum Heben!”
she yells after hearing Sykes attacked by the rattlesnake. (Hurston). Through all
the heartache and abuse she endured, Delia had grown to hate and despise Sykes and
his ways. However, the one thing Delia never gave up hope on was her religion and
her devotion to her religion.