reading Response "Sweat"

Essay by Jennifer79College, UndergraduateA, August 2014

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Jennifer Ward

July 22, 2014

English 336

Reading Response 2

The Critical Essay of


In the short story, "Sweat," by Zora Neale Hurston, the setting is in the early 1900's in a small all-black town in Florida, Eatonville. The reader is able to quickly understand the conflicts taking place at the center of this story, beginning with Delia sorting clothes on a Sunday afternoon when her husband Sykes returns home, after spending the day with his mistress. The second he returns home he begins to taunt his wife, Delia. As soon as Sykes refers to the "white folks" clothes, the reader is able to see the humiliation he feels for not being able to support his wife like he should. The arrangement in which the author shares the events in the story, the conflict between Sykes and Delia is the main conflict and is developed through their many interactions with one another, showing the struggle between good and evil.

The conflict that is not as easy to see is the internal conflict Sykes has with himself. The story covers many weeks in the lives of Delia and Sykes with a brief flashback to the course of their fifteen-year marriage. The action begins at a crucial moment when Delia chooses to stand up to Sykes abuse; standing up for herself and the home she has paid for with her "sweat" and "tears" for the past fifteen-years.

The rising action of the plot takes place in the beginning of the story, when Delia stands up to her husband by grabbing a frying pan as a weapon. After returning home from church, Delia begins her work sorting clothes when her husband returns home, laying a bullwhip on her shoulder to frighten her, knowing Delia is extremely scared...