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Domestic Abuse: Literary Analysis of Sweat - Essay Example

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The short story entitled Sweat written by Hurston exemplifies a form of domestic abuse by the antagonist in the story, Sykes, the husband of the main character and protagonist, Delia. The issue of domestic abuse has been known to cover diverse scenarios of violent behavior by one member in a relationship to another…
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Domestic Abuse: Literary Analysis of Sweat
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Domestic Abuse: Literary Analysis of Sweat The short story en d Sweat written by Hurston exemplifies a form of domestic abuse by the antagonist in the story, Sykes, the husband of the main character and protagonist, Delia. The issue of domestic abuse has been known to cover diverse scenarios of violent behavior by one member in a relationship to another. Delia is the subject of the domestic abuse, despite exhibiting a strong personality in terms of weathering the challenges posed by life’s vicissitudes and her husband’s wanton infidelity and indifference to her. The events that clearly manifest domestic abuse in the relationship would be unfolded through characterization, symbolism and incidents in the setting that led to a drastic and unfortunate climax. The main characters in the short story Sweat are Delia, the protagonist, a black washerwoman who had been working on the laundry for white people and her husband, Sykes, the antagonist, who is an abusive husband openly and vagrantly practicing infidelity. These characters are round characters, whose personalities and traits were detailed as developed by Hurston in the story, to form the basis for unfolding of events. On the other hand, Bertha, the other woman of Sykes who he sleeps with, and the townspeople at the village, are flat characters. Their descriptions were provided merely in outline form and the story did not evolve with their presence. As previously indicated, Delia, despite her small physique and silent stance towards townspeople, showed strength in character and courage in disposition when faced with trials and challenges such as the determination to earn a living and to improve their living condition through commitment to her work; and in an extremely dangerous event (when confronted by the rattlesnake). Domestic abuse was clearly exemplified through depicting Sykes as an openly abusive husband who totally disregarded Delia’s feelings of being humiliated in public due to Sykes infidelity. Likewise, Sykes’ motive for putting the rattlesnake at Delia’s house, despite awareness of Delia’s utter abhorrence to snakes is another form of abuse. Through symbolism using traditional symbols where meanings are universally understood, sweat, the title, is manifested as a symbol of hard work. Delia had struggled through life as a laundry woman for their daily support and which enabled her to own the house they live it. More importantly, the snake, which had been manifested initially as a bullwhip and had been the central image of the story, is also a symbol of evil, of its ability to harness fear. The snake was the symbol used to clearly indicate domestic abuse since Sykes, knowing that Delia was absolutely afraid of it, intentionally placed it in the house to incite fear and disaster, add anxiety to Delia’s life, and provide a possibility for Delia to leave so that Sykes could bring Bertha to live with him. Hurston set the story for Sweat in a small all-black town in Florida, Orlando with the opening paragraph describing Delia sorting washcloths at about 11:00 pm on a Sunday. It is classified as a local color fiction that focuses on distinct characters and dialects of the specific region. The story have both general and specific settings, where events unfolded through a series of events and where the house Delia and Sykes live in was specifically identified, in conjunction with symbols, the theme for domestic abuse. The strength in Delia’s personality and character were her redeeming traits that enabled her to act in the right perspectives in the face of danger and possible death. The events that clearly manifested domestic abuse in the relationship were thereby unfolded through characterization, symbolism and incidents in the setting that led to a drastic and unfortunate climax: the death of Sykes that was personally viewed by Delia, who ultimately allowed the demise to naturally occur, to avenge the abuse wrought in their relationship. Read More
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