"Sweat" by Zora Neale HurstonNow frequently anthologized, Zora Neale Hurstons short story Sweat was first published in Fire!!, a legendary literary magazine of the Harlem Renaissance, whose sole issue appeared in November 1926. Among contributions by Gwendolyn Bennett, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Thurman, Sweat stood out both for its artistic accomplishment and its exploration of rural Southern black life. In Sweat Hurston claimed the voice that animates her mature fiction, notably the 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God; the themes of marital conflict and the development of spiritual consciousness were introduced as well. Sweat exemplifies Hurstons lifelong concern with womens relation to language and the literary possibilities of black vernacular.
This casebook for the story includes an introduction by the editor, a chronology of the authors life, the authoritative text of Sweat, and a second story, The Gilded Six-Bits. Published in 1932, this second story was written after Hurston had spent years conducting fieldwork in the Southern United States. The volume also includes Hurstons groundbreaking 1934 essay, Characteristics of Negro Expression, and excerpts from her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road. An article by folklorist Roger Abrahams provides additional cultural contexts for the story, as do selected blues and spirituals. Critical commentary comes from Alice Walker, who led the recovery of Hurstons work in the 1970s, Robert Hemenway, Henry Louis Gates, Gayl Jones, John Lowe, Kathryn Seidel, and Mary Helen Washington.
Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston Essay example
Zora Neil Hurston's short story "Sweat" I have been faced with severe repression and sex discrimination reminders at the heart of women in American society. The main character of the story, Delia, marries a cruel and angry person named Sykes. Through the explanation of their marriage life, this short story shows that despite repressive patriarchy, they exercise their agents in myriad ways that women resist. She is a woman. In a warm spring day, she was washing away the clothes that were washed away for the white people in the town. This story shows a woman under women's domination. This is a common problem for many southern wives at this time.
Within this small space, Hurston addresses a number of themes, such as the trials of femininity, which she explores with compelling and efficient symbolism. Originally published in , it is nuanced and eloquently compact, with Hurston maximizing each word, object, character, and plot point to create an impassioned and enlightening narrative. Hurston also proves herself every bit as capable as Mark Twain with regards to representing regional dialects and individual speech patterns, challenging the elitism of prescribed language and grammatical rules by representing an authentic dialect. This is demonstrated when her husband, Sykes, defines her in strictly physical terms. In this way, both Sykes and even those who sympathize with Delia, frame women in terms of their physicality.
No one in the town is willing to help Delia get out of her relationship. Delia faces many struggles and through it all tries to remain a woman of God. Eventually, she becomes an example. The story commences with a hardworking black washwoman named Delia contently and peacefully folds laundry in her quiet home. Delia has been taken by this abuse for some fifteen years. She has lived with relentless beatings, adultery, even six-foot long venomous snakes put in places.
It was Sunday. Any other night, Delia Jones would have been in bed for two hours by this time. But she was a wash-woman, and Monday morning meant a great deal to her. So she collected the soiled clothes on Saturday when she returned the clean things. Sunday night after church, she sorted them and put the white things to soak. A great hamper in the bedroom held the clothes that she brought home. It was so much neater than a number of bundles lying around.