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Transcript of "Sweat" Questions
Questions "Sweat" by Zora Neale Hurston Question: 1. Hurston's story is filled with symbolism. What symbolism is present in the scene in which Delia opens the basket on the bed and discovers a snake? Explain. Answer: The symbolism that becomes apparent in the scene where Delia finds the snake in her basket is that of the last match/ pot-bellied lamp. Upon her return to the house, Delia addresses the snake box which for her is a source of anger. After she is greeted by silence, an optimism overtakes her because she is in hope that Syke has removed the snake. Evidence: "She addressed the snake's box. Complete silence. She went into the house with a new hope..."
"Perhaps her threat...frightened Sykes! Perhaps he was sorry!" The sequence of events preceding the discovery of the snake reveals that Delia is at her "wits-end" with the way that Sykes has been carrying on, and any opportunity for him to do better will allow her to release herself from resentful feelings towards him. "Fifteen years of misery and suppression...she would hope anything looked towards a way or over her wall of inhibitions." Evidence: It isn't until Delia assumes the snake is gone, that she goes to reach for the match box that contains "only one" match; in this moment, the match is symbolism for a last chance of hope within her marriage to Sykes. The very object that had caused a more severe strain on their marriage is presumed to be gone [snake] which creates an avenue for Delia to get back to the feelings she once had. Furthermore, when Delia finally comes across the snake in the basket, her first instinct is to grab the lamp that she lit with the last match. During Delia's abrupt exit, "the wind from the open door blew out the light." Soon after an angry spell comes over her. Here again, the lamp that was blown out symbolizes Delia's last attempt at a "love feast" mood that ceases-- blown away like the wind. If in fact the snake was never present, the lamp light would still be lit. Evidence: "With this, stalked through her a cold, bloody rage."
"If things aint right, Gawd knows taint mah fault." Additionally, when Sykes returns home, he can't find a lamp, nor can he find a light, so he exclaims "ef Ah could on'y strack uh light!" This darkness caused by lack of light could have been the difference between Sykes being attacked by the snake or not. Subsequently, Delia neglects to run to his aid because she refuses to try anything further that deals with Sykes. Each event from the time Delia returns, is assisted by the presence or absence of light which causes a particular outcome. When light is present, there is hope, but in its absence anguish and terror subsides. Question: 2. What information does the first part of the story reveal about social and economic contexts in which Delia and Sykes live? What do Eatonville and Winter Park represent? Answer: In the story it is revealed that Delia is a domesticated wife, in a patriarchal society. She is in a time in history when women were merely subjects to their husbands rather than partners. She is also the sole bread winner Evidence: "Ah been takin in washin for fifteen years, Mah tub of suds is filled yo belly with vittles more times than yo hands is filled it.” When she is first introduced the author says, “Delia would have been in bed for two hours by this time. But she was a washwoman…” This could perhaps reveal that she lived in a social and economic environment that prohibited women from holding high paying careers, especially black women. Question: 3. What change can you see in Delia's behavior towards Sykes in the first part of the story? Discuss what this could tell you about Zora Neale Hurston's attitude towards gender. Answer: An explanation for the change in Delia Jones’s behavior towards Sykes appears on pages 955 through 957.
Delia Jones is no longer scared or frightened to express her true feelings about her husband Sykes.
Delia Jones expresses how she is sick of Sykes degrading her. Evidence: “An don’t keer if you never git through. Anyhow, Ah done promised Gawd and a couple of other men, An aint gointer have it in mah house. Don’t gimme no lip neither, else Ah’ll throw’em out and put mah fist up side yo’ head to boot.” (Sykes)
“She was on her feet; her poor little body, her bare knuckly hands bravely defying the strapping hulk before her.” (Action of Delia Jones)
“Looka heah, Sykes you done gone too fur…. Mah sweat is done paid for this house and Ah reckon Ah kin keep on sweatin’ in it.” (Delia Jones) Discuss what this could tell you about Zora Neale Hurston's attitude towards gender. Women should not be subordinate to men.
Women should be independent.
No man or woman should be scared to state his or her opinion. Group 1: Members Camille Idedevbo
Chinita Colbert The snakes movement is a symbol of Delia's transformation. The snake representing Delia and "she" represents Sykes.
"He moved sluggishly at first" on page 965 represents how before Delia was kind of timid about standing up for herself. It is proven that she usually does not stand up for herself like that where it says "which act surprised him greatly coming from her" on page 957. Since Sykes was so surprised at her actions that tells the reader that this was not something Delia did often.
Then where it says "as she turned round, jumped up and down.. he began to stir vigorously." This represents how the more Sykes got violent with Delia, the more it built up within her. She even says it on page 963 where it says" Ah done took an' took till mah belly is full up tuh mah neck."
Lastly, it says "she saw him pouring his awful beauty from the basket upon the bed." Delia's beauty pouring out is when she lets out everything she is feeling on page 963, and basically lets Sykes know that she does not want to be with him anymore.