Answering questions Norton Anthology American Literature -Zora Neal Hurtson 1891-1960

What is the meaning of the behavior of Delia: “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” (950) or idea that manifests through the position of a washwoman and the Sykes reaction to this? Why do you believe Delia stays with her husband so long but finally changes her mentality and tolerance of continued mistreatment and disrespect “She seized the iron skillet from the stove and struck a defensive pose” (951)? Zora Neale Hurston wrote “Sweat” during a time period that did not accept people of color so why did she write this book that could be considered a negative portrayal of African Americans and their culture through rural southern dialects and stereotypical behaviors (953)? From backstory of Delia’s past, she dealt with many years of brutality and suffering at the hands of her husband “Two months after the wedding, he had given her the first brutal beating” (952).  Delia seems to rely on church through her weekly schedule, but does religion have an integral purpose to the story? If there were no mention of religion, would the situation differ or stay the same? Why? When the story ventures out the Jones’s home, we are presented with other characters ”The village men on Joe Clarke’s porch even chewed cane listlessly” (952), at two different climactic points of the story. Why does Hurston insert the village men on Joe Clarke’s porch into the story? What does their dialogue and comments say about them and society? Do they add anything to the story? Delia is tempted when she returns home to find Sykes home early and discovered a soapbox near the steps (954). What is the significance of what is inside the soapbox? Does this situation mirror a religious narrative?  Is Hurston presenting the cause and root of evil and suffering through this interaction between Delia and Sykes? When Delia finally stands firmly against Sykes and his demoralizing verbiage to voice her true feelings, “Ah hates you tub de same degree dat Ah useter love yuh” (955), why is this such a moment of satisfaction? What was Hurston’s message behind this?

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