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September 17, 2014

The Inescapable Discomfort in Zora Neale Hurston's "Sweat"


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Class,

In the comment box below,

. . . the note-taker/scribe from each group should retype the question your group discussed today in class and provide an answer with quotations from the text to support your answers. You MUST put the page number (or, paragraph number if there are no page numbers) in parentheses after any quotation used.

Enter your work on this text as prescribed in class. For example:

Remember: I have to "approve" all comments so you won't see it immediately after posting. After hitting submit, you should see a screen that confirms this.

We are beginning to use some concepts in our discussions that you may or may have had practice using before. I want to be sure that you have a clear understanding of the words we use in class (no more blank stares!) so be sure you are looking up words you don't feel you yet "own" (means, making it a part of your personal vocabulary) by utilizing your dictionaries to the fullest.

Dr. Hobbs

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Posted by lhobbs at September 17, 2014 10:20 AM

Readers' Comments:

Brianna L Broughton
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love & Desire CA02
21 September 2014

Sweat

Question 2: In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1962), what sort of work does Delia Jones do to make ends meet?

Answer: In the short story “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston, Delia Jones washes clothes to make ends meet, it says flat out in the third line of the story what her job is. “Delia Jones would have been in bed for two hours by this time. But she was a washwoman…” (Hurston 4).

Posted by: Brianna Broughton at September 21, 2014 09:18 PM

Allison Ward
Dr. B Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature
21 September 21, 2014

Question #10
In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1926), who is Bertha?

Answer
In the short story “Sweat”, Bertha is the other woman in Sykes’s life. I’m not sure if she is a mistress or not. Sykes treats her so much better than he treats Delia, who is his wife. On page eight, it states how Sykes was “still paying her room rent at Della Lewis’- the only house in town that would’ve taken her in.”(Hurston). Also on page eight, it tells of how Sykes owns everything in the town and Bertha can have it by Sykes saying, “Everything b’longs tuh me an’ you sure kin have it…you kin get anything you wants. Dis is mah town an’ you sho’ kin have it.”(Hurston). It is clear that Sykes favors Bertha over his own wife, so the question is why isn’t he married to Bertha?

Posted by: Allison Ward at September 21, 2014 11:07 PM

Thomas Watson
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature CA02
23 September 2014

QUESTION #3:
In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1926), what information does the first part of the story reveal about the social and economic contexts in which Delia and Sykes live? What do the towns of Eatonville and Winter Park represent?

ANSWER:

The first part of the story reveals that the social and economical background in which Delia and Sykes lives can be narrowed down to relatively poor and segregated. Throughout the story you see that Delia works hard for her money whereas her husband doesn’t. According to Hurston on page 5, ““What’s it got to do with you, Sykes? Mah tub of suds is filled yo’ belly with vittles more times than yo’ hands is filled it. Mah sweat is done paid for this house and Ah reckon Ah kin keep on sweatin’ in it”. You can also see that resources were scarce like the Doctors being in Orlando. To add, you can tell that there’s segregation by the way Sykes responds after seeing the clothes. “Ah done tole you time and again to keep them white folks’ clothes outa dis house”(Hurston 4).



Eatonville and Winter Park to me personify what the earliest/historical black towns were like. They represent what it was like when African Americans started their communities’ exclusive to them in a way. It didn’t seem like the best place for people to be, mainly because everything isn’t peachy in a sense. Also, Zora Hurston grew up with a rough childhood in Eatonville and on page 1 it explains, “Of the odd jobs she took to support herself in the years that followed, the most important took her away from Eatonville”.

Posted by: Thomas Watson at September 23, 2014 04:58 PM

Shelby Rexroth
ENG210
September 22nd, 2014

12. In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1926), revisit/note the names of the figures who hang out at the Joe Clarke’s porch: Joe Lindsay, Jim Merchant, Walker Thomas, and Moss. How might these names be symbolic?

The names of the figures that used to hang out on Joe’s Clarke’s porch are symbolic to the point where they all knew about Sykes’s dirty cheating ways and would gossip about it, and since they knew Delia well enough, they encouraged her to leave him and gave her wise words about how better off she was without Sykes in her life and would help her boost her confidence as a woman.

Posted by: Shelby Rexroth at September 23, 2014 07:26 PM

Emily Finck
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature CA02
24 September 2014


Question: #14
In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1926), revisit/note the names of the figures who hang out at Joe Clarke’s porch: Joe Lindsay, Jim Merchant, Walter Thomas, and Moss. How does their dialogue help to characterize Delia? Answer in your own words, but quoted and cited passages from the text to support your answer.


Answer:
The men from Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat” reveal about Delia, the main character that she is a hard working and respectable woman ruined by the abuse of her husband. Delia always sorts and washes the laundry in her town just to make ends meet. The men talk about how Delia was the only one working to support her and Skyes. They also reveal that she used to be beautiful and strong until her husband started beating and belittling her. They say that she is now a husk of her former self, and it was all because of Skyes. “Too much knockin’ will ruin any ’oman. He done beat her enough to kill three women, let ’lone change they looks” said Elijah Moseley (Hurston 6).

Posted by: Emily Finck at September 23, 2014 07:41 PM

Matt Weller
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 201CL Love and Desire in Literature CA02
23 September 2014

Question #11:
In Zora Neale Hurston’s story “Sweat” (1926), what might explain Sykes dislike for skinny women, such as Delia? Why does he like/prefer fat women, such as Bertha? What might this tell readers about Syke’s character?

Answer:
Sykes does not appreciate or even like skinny women like Delia. Delia works and works to provide for Sykes and things still do not add up for him. They get into a fight at the beginning of the story and Delia threatens to hit Sykes with an iron skillet. “Gawd! how Ah hates skinny wimmen” (Hurston 1023). He simply says that he does not like skinny women right in front of Delia. Bertha, the mistress, is on the heavier side and still Sykes goes to see her instead of being with his wife. Later in the story, Delia overhears some men talking about Sykes and Delia’s relationship and how Sykes has been snooping around with Bertha. They talk about why Sykes is interested in fat women. “Ah, she’s fat, thass how come. He allus been crazy ‘bout fat women” (Hurston 1024). This shows that Sykes is interested in fat women and not skinnier women like Delia. Sykes character tells the reader that he is an ungrateful and hateful man. He does not appreciate Delia or anything she does and later bits him in the butt when he is bit by a rattlesnake and Delia does not save his life.

Posted by: Matthew Weller at September 23, 2014 08:18 PM

Zailet Martinez
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL- Love and Desire in Literature CA02
24 September 2014

Question 6:
In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1926), what is Delia’s worst phobia?

Answer:
Delia had a phobia of snakes. At the beginning when Sykes enters the house and throws his whip at her she gets scared. Even though, it was not a real snake, the fact that it looked like a snake scared her. Also, the fact that Sykes brings a take snake to the house so that he can get her away is the fact that Delia was terrified of snakes. In this story, the rattlesnake might represent the devil entering her home. It is obvious that Sykes does not like Delia, and he wants her out of the house. Sykes says this to Delia after she tells that she hates him, “’Well, Ah’m glad you does hate me. Ah’m sho’ tiahed uh you hangin’ ontuh me. Ah don’t want yuh…’” (Hurston, 8). The snake symbolises evil, and Delia does not trust the man she is living with because he also represents evil. Sykes is an abusive husband that cheats and hurts her constantly. He brings the snake to the house to try to get rid of Delia so his mistress can move in with him. Delia fights back because Sykes does not contribute to the house, and she has paid for it with blood and sweat. She tells him, “‘Don’t think Ah’m gointuh be run ‘way fum mah house neither.’” Delia is pure in this story, and Sykes is the devil’s servant. Her biggest phobia is that the Satan enters her house when the snake is brought to the house. In the end, the devil’s servant (Sykes) is bitten and die in the hands of the serpent, and at that point all of Satan’s evil leaves her house.

Posted by: Zailet Martinez at September 23, 2014 09:54 PM

Gabriela Navarro
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature
23 Sep 2014

QUESTION #15:
In Zora Neale Hurston's short story "Sweat" (1926), might does the rattlesnake symbolize in the story?

ANSWER:
Sykes is an abusive man to his wife. "oh well, whatever goes over the Devil's back, is got to com under his belly" (Hurston 6), which meant that even Delia knew that Sykes would eventually get what awaits for him. When Sykes uses a real rattlesnake in an attempt to poison Delia, he is actually bitten in the neck, making the snake a symbol for karma. Also a snake is represented as "evil," as well as Sykes and because the snake bite was karma, it was as if Sykes got a "bite" of his own poison.

Posted by: Gabriela Navarro at September 23, 2014 10:14 PM

Question #4:
In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1926), what object does Sykes carry with him when drives the buggy and how does he use this frighten Delia? Answer in your own words, but use quoted and cited passages from the text to support your answer.

Answer:
Sykes carries around a bullwhip while he drives the buggy. He uses this object to scare Delia at the beginning of the story by landing it on her shoulder as a snake figure, frightening her. “A great terror took hold of her. It softened her knees and dried her mouth so that it was a full minute before she could cry out or move. Then she saw that it was the big bull whip her husband liked to carry when he drove” (Nora Zeal Hurston, pg. 4.) Delia is terrified of snakes and throughout the story, with the knowledge of her fear; Sykes continues to scare her with the animal. It becomes to come off as if he is torturing her. He even brings one into the home one evening and proclaims to Delia after she damn near passes out that the snake is going to be in that house till it dies, “… he’s gointer stay right heah till he die” (Hurston, pg. 8.)

Posted by: irma sera at September 23, 2014 10:38 PM

Anthony Colello
Dr. Hobbs
ENG210 CA02 love and desire in literature
24 September 2014

Question:
Why does Sykes declare that Delia is a hypocrite? Why does this accusation not seem fair given the source?

Answer:
Sykes declares Delia a hypocrite because she goes to church like she should, but she works on the Sabbath, "then come home and wash white folks clothes on the Sabbath" (Hurston, 5). She does this in order to get her work done on time.

This statement is not fair at all.The only reason she must work so hard is due to the man that is calling her a hypocrite refuses to help pay bills, contribute work, or help in any other manner. Rather the opposite is true. Sykes only takes from Delia, "Mah tub of suds is filled yo' belly with vittles more times than yo' hands is filled it" (5). Delia tells Sykes that she does all the work, and she will continue to work inside.

Posted by: Anthony Colello at September 24, 2014 11:35 AM

Ahmed Almoailu
Dr. Hobbs
END-210cl
9/24/14

Question: In the third part of zora Neale Hurston's short story " sweat", there are references to gethsemane, the rocks of calvary and jurden (probably, "jordan") water. look up these biblical concepts, if you are not already familiar with them. What might they signfy in relation to Delia? answer in your owen words, but use qouted and cited passages from the text to support your answer

Answer: The Gethsemane is where Jesus and his followers go to pray, some of them watch and the rest pray. They fell sleep, Judas betrayed Jesus and told the Roman where he were, and then he was captured and crucified. "Delia's work-worn knees crawled over the earth in Gethsemane and up the rocks of Calvary many, many times during these months" (Hurston’s Sweat). It signify how Delia feels betrayed by her husband, because she loved him and she is working hard, but he abused her and cheater on her with Bertha.

Posted by: Ahmed Almoailu at September 24, 2014 01:33 PM

Sharonda S Byrd
B. LEE HOBBS
ENG 210CL
28 September 2014
Sweat
Question: In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1926), why does Skye declare that Delia is a hypocrite? Why does this accusation not seem fair given the source?
Answer: Skye declares that Delia is a hypocrite because she is doing work on a Sunday and that is supposed to be a day of rest. This accusation came to be because Delia says to Skye that she does not want to fight and that she just came from taking a sacrament at church which is like a ceremony. This accusation is not fair because she has no choice but to work because she is a washwoman and all Skye does not have a job. In the story Delia explains why she cleans on Sunday,” 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. It saved her almost a half day's start”. Delia washes so she cannot get behind at work and no other reason. It even says if it would have been any other night she would have been asleep but she works hard to make money but her husband Skye just spends it on his mistress.

Posted by: sharonda byrd at September 29, 2014 01:47 PM

Matt Weller
Zailet Martinez
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 201CL Love and Desire in Literature CA02
1 October 2014

Question #19:
Comment on the blatant use of sun imagery at the end of Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1926). What does it represent?

Answer:
The imagery of the sun represents that Delia has hope for a new life ahead of her. Sykes was this sense of darkness that was always dragging her down. She had no light in her life, but only darkness that Sykes was putting on her. As Sykes is dying from a snakebite, the sun slowly starts to rise from the horizon. “She could hear Sykes calling a most despairing tone as one who expected no answer. The sun crept on up, and he called” (Hurston 1029). As Sykes is slowly dying, Delia’s new life is starting to rise. As Sykes starts to suffer more increasingly, the sun rises more and starts to grow warmer. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for Delia, and now no more darkness can drag her down.

Posted by: Matthew Weller at October 1, 2014 02:58 PM

Sharonda S Byrd
Ashjan Alrashid
B. LEE HOBBS
1 October 2014
Sweat
Question: Discuss the reasons for Skye’s harsh treatment of Delia in Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat”
Answer: In the story “Sweat” Skye is harsh to Delia because she works hard and has a job yet Skye is unemployed, and he cannot provide for her like a man in this time should. The response that Delia gives lot Skye shows her frustration towards him, "What's it got to do with you, Sykes? Mah tub of suds is filled yo' belly with vittles more times than yo' hands is filled it. Mah sweat is done paid for this house and Ah reckon Ah kin keep on sweatin' in it.", Delia is telling him that her job as a washerwoman has filled his belly with food and put a roof over his head and the only thing that Skye has given her is stress and rudeness. Delia’s response made Skye even worse because he knew that what she is saying is right.

Posted by: sharonda byrd at October 1, 2014 03:10 PM

Brianna Broughton & Rebecca Messano
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 210CL - LOVE AND DESIRE IN LITERATURE
1 October 2014
Group Question

Sweat

Question 24: In Zora Neal Hurston's short story "Sweat" (1926), how does the third-person-perspective narrative technique contribute to the story?

Answer: The third person perspective contributes to the short story “Sweat” because it gives us insight into why she acts the way she does. It also gives us a look into the abusive relationship between Delia and Skyes. We learn about how deep each of their anger goes for one another and how much they really dislike each other. The third person view is objective because we are not aware of how any character feels and thinks.

Posted by: Brianna Broughton at October 1, 2014 03:19 PM

Anthony Colello,
Martin Terrasi
Dr. Hobbs
ENG CA02
1 October 2014

Question:
How did the author portray Delia, and Sykes in the last three paragraphs? Is there any change in their representation?

Answer:
Throughout the story Delia and Sykes have no use for one another, and it could be argued that they hate each other. Not to say that they never loved each other, but that flame has sense been doused. In the last three paragraphs Sykes is in Delia's house and has been bitten by the very snake he brought into the home. Knowing he is going to die, he catches Delia's eyes staring back at his. This gives him a false hope and Delia is realizing some form of guilt and or pity at the sight of Sykes withering away at her feet, to the point that she must exit the house and wait for him to die. Once again Delia is useless to Sykes.

Posted by: Anthony Colello, Martin Terrasi at October 1, 2014 03:19 PM

Ahmed Almoailu & Thomas Watson
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG210CL Love & Desire In Literature
1 October 2014

Question 23: Discuss the significance of the title of Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1926). Answer in your own words, but use quoted and cited passages from the text to support your answer.

Answer:
The title sweat is representation of how hard Delia works to support herself as well as her husband. “What’s that got to do with you, Sykes? Mah tub of suds is filled yo’ belly with vittle more times than yo’ hands is filled it. Mah sweat is done paid for this house and ah reckon Ah kin keep on sweatin’ in it” (Hurston, Page 5). Sweat also represent the way she feels toward her husband, and how much underestimated she feels. She works harder than what she needs to, while her husband does not work. Sweat also represent the foundation she set forth. “”Naw you won’t,” she panted, “that ole snaggle-toothed black woman you runnin’ with aint comin’ heah to pile up on mah sweat and blood”(Hurston, Page 5). The sweat also represents the way she feels towards her husband. For instance how Sykes brought the snake into their home on page 8. The sweat she feels for him is tailored to his antics and ill will toward Delia, she sweats Sykes.

Posted by: Ahmed Almoailu at October 1, 2014 03:20 PM

Gabriela Navarro
Allison Ward
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 210CL Love and Desire in Literature
1 Oct 2014

QUESTION #21:
Identify the phallic images used in the story and comment on what they could signify about the character and the story itself.

ANSWER:
An example of phallic images used in the story would be situations involving the snake and the bull whip. The snake also represents power. The husband as the more dominate and masculine character would "swing" the snake around his wife presence, showing how "powerful" it is. When does Delia tell Sykes "what you throw dat whip on me like dat? You know it would skeer me--looks just like a snake, an' you knows how skeered Ah is of snakes," (Hurston, 1022) shows how Sykes would use the whip as another masculine representation of dominance over his wife. The whip also represents that masculinity is a trait that can be acquired, and not something that is with a male at birth.

Posted by: Gabriel Navarro & Ahmed Almoailu at October 1, 2014 03:22 PM

Irma Sera
Emily Finck
Antonella Aviles
ENG 210 Love and Desire CA02
Hobbs
01 October 2014

Question #25
How might Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat” (1926) be evaluated/understood as a feminist text? In other words, what’s feminist about it?

Answer:
Feminism is shown throughout the story, the first occasion is when Delia and Sykes are in the kitchen after he kicks the clean clothes she has just folded and she is frustrated with his actions and begin to express how she is feeling to him, “looka heah, Sykes, you done gone too fur. Ah been married to you fur fifteen years […] (Hurston, 1023).” Here she begins to stand up for herself, she speaks up to her abusive husband and tells him how hard she is/has been working and he comes in and tries to throw off her hard work. He shows no sympathy for her, “What’s that got to do with me (Hurston, 1023)? As she continues the narrator writes how she grabs the iron skillet as if she is going to strike him with it, “She seized the iron skillet from the stove and struck a defensive pose, which act surprised him greatly, coming from her. It cowed him and he did not strike her as he usually did.” This is the beginning of her standing up for herself and speaking up to Sykes.

Posted by: Emily Finck at October 2, 2014 08:04 PM

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