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Paper Topic:

Short Story Main Character Analysis


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The Character of Delia in Hurston 's Sweat

Zora Neale Hurston 's short story , Sweat , tells the tale of Delia , an African American who is suffering in an abusive and unloving marriage Her husband , Sykes , to whom she has been married for 15 years , treats her as a slave , commits blatant adulterous acts and is verbally and physically abusive . The story describes how Delia begins to recognize the fact that her treatment is unjust and begins to take back her own life and

responsibility for it . Despite her religious beliefs in the sanctity of marriage she begins to question the love she once had for her husband and reflects on the state of her relationship "She lay awake , gazing upon the debris that cluttered their matrimonial trail . Not an image left standing along the way . Anything like flowers had long ago been drowned in the salty stream that had been pressed from her heart . Her tears , her sweat , her blood . She had brought love to the union and he had brought a longing after the flesh . Two months after the wedding , he had given her the first brutal beating (Hurston 680

The turning point for Delia comes when her home is threatened and she becomes aware of her husband 's plans to take their house for himself and his mistress . It is almost as if the years of suffering and hardship come to a head and Delia 's character begins to feel rage and anger towards her husband and all he has made her endure "That ole snaggle-tooth black woman you runnin ' with ain 't comin ' heah to pile up on mah sweat and blood . You ain 't paid for nothin ' on this place , and Ah 'm gointer stay right heah till Ah 'm toted out foot foremost (Hurston 680

As the story progresses , Delia 's character develops from a weak downtrodden women who is frightened of her husband to one who is almost indifferent . She ceases to care about the way he behaves with other women and is no longer scared to stand up to him . The final scene of the story confirms this and represents the change that has occurred in Delia . She fails to act to save her husband from his death and thus disobeys the rules of the church in to take a stand for herself and the life she deserves

Critical to the character development within this short story is the skeleton of the narration and point of view . Hurston 's choice of a third person omniscient narration style is extremely effective in crafting the personality of Delia . This technique injects an element of brutal honest in the story , allowing the reader to gain an insight into her vivid personality through participating first hand in her thoughts and feelings . The narration consists of long passages of narration that are an effective mix of narration and dialogue

Through applying the same technique to the character of Sykes , the reader...

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