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The Downfall of Sykes in Sweat Essay


The short story Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston is about the struggle of a woman Delia and her abusive husband Sykes. In the story, Delia states, Sometime or ruther, Sykes, like everybody else is gointer reap his sowing. Delia points out that Sykes deserved to die from the snake bite due to his abusive behavior. There are three main root causes that led to Sykess downfall.

The first cause of Sykes downfall was his abusive behavior towards his wife Delia. Due to the abuse, Delia changes from a beautiful, happy woman to a depressed prisoner of her own marriage. Two months after the wedding, he had given her the first brutal beating. This is when Sykess violent actions started towards Delia and she could not stand up for herself. His violent behavior was a premonition of his own violent death.

Marriage is a promise between two people and they should respect and love each other throughout the rest of their lives. However Sykes broke his end of the promise by neglecting Delia. Sykes neglects Delia by cheating on her with another woman named Bertha. Just then Delia drove past on her way home, as Sykes was ordering magnificently for Bertha. It pleased him for Delia to see. Sykes wants Delia to see him with Bertha to purposely hurt Delias feelings. In additions, Sykes also did not spend much time with Delia. She had the memory of his numerous trips to Orlando with all of his wages when he had returned to her penniless, even before the first year had passed. Sykes would always be away from home and travel to Orlando without Delia, and he would not spend any money on her. Sykess behavior shows that he is not satisfied with Delia and he neglects her which weakened Delia spiritually and mentally.

Not only did Sykes abuse Delia physically, but he also abused her mentally. He threatens her, ignores her and insults her. She lifted her eyes to the door and saw him standing there bent over with laughter at her fight. She screamed at him. Sykes brought a snake into the house to scare Delia. No good husbands bring a snake to scare their wives. Course Ah knowed it! Thats how come Ah done it. Sykes even knew about Delias fear snakes, but yet placed the snake in front of the kitchen door. Furthermore, even though this story takes place in the 1920s when the men had more rights than women, the husbands could help out the wives. However Sykes never helped out Delia with the housework. Ah been married to you fur fifteen years, and Ah been takin in washin for fifteen years. Sweat, sweat, sweat! Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat! Delia argues how she only sweats through her marriage. Whats that got to do with me? Sykes responded how the housework has nothing to do with him, and neglecting his wife. In return, when Sykes is bitten by the snake, she does not help, and just lets him die.

Sykes actions above lead to his downfall because when he actually tries to hurt Delia, he is not only hurting her but he is also hurting himself physically and emotionally.

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