Identity in Sweat

Identity in Sweat

“Identity in Sweat”

When we think of slavery many things come to mind, with abuse one of the main things. “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston was written after slavery was abolished, but it still paints a vivid picture of what it was. Slavery has ended, but for Delia it is as if it still exists. Delia has worked for everything she has, but her husband Sykes is a mean, brutal, and vicious person. Because of his perception of women, and the laws that govern those times, Delia has no chance to assume her own identity. She must still live by the hand of her master, her own husband Sykes.

We find out early on that Delia and Sykes had been married for fifteen years. The author notes that Sykes had given Delia her first beating two months into the marriage. This is a horrid and unimaginable thought for most people. For fifteen years Delia stood by Sykes through all the emotional stress, beatings, and verbal abuse.

Being married to Sykes, Delia’s role is more of a slave than a wife. It is very apparent that Sykes is an unfaithful husband to Delia. Delia has tried being the best wife possible to Sykes. She has provided everything for him for fifteen years while being taken advantage of time and time again. Eventually, the arguing and beatings become too much for her and she stands up for herself. During one of their many arguments we read, “She seized and 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” (Hurston 1001). It goes on to say, “A little awed by this new Delia, he sidled out of the door and slammed the back gate after him” (Hurston 1001). Although the beatings did not stop, this gave Delia a newfound confidence. Up until that moment Delia had not been her true self for fifteen years. Sykes had stolen her identity by taking away everything she was and wanted to be and forcing her to live in fear. It was a...

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