Theme of Good vs. Evil in “Sweat” Essay

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The main character in Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat” is a black woman who resides in the South that clutches on to her belief in God to help her get through the suffering that she endures from her abusive and adulterous husband, Sykes. “Sweat” is full of religious symbolism that demonstrates that Hurston was using the theme of good vs. evil in the short story. In the very beginning of “Sweat” one can see that Delia possesses a very strong work ethic, by the way that she is working vigorously to wash the clothes for the white people that she worked for to put food on the table and a roof over her and Sykes’ head. The white clothing that Delia washes in the story represents her character. White signifies her virtuousness and wholesome …show more content…

Sykes personality is totally different than Delia’s. Sykes Jones is physically and emotionally cruel to Delia. He is immoral and unfaithful; furthermore he takes the money that is earned from Delia's tough labor and squanders it away on his mistress, Bertha. Whereas Sykes may be strong in body, he does not have any belief in God. Sykes in a sense can be compared to the devil because like the devil he drained Delia of her beauty, joy and happiness that she once possessed. This point is brought up in the story when Joe Clarke and the village men are talking about Delia and Sykes ” …But dey squeeze an’ grind an’ wring every drop uh pleasure dat’s in ‘em out” (443). According to Davis Masson, who wrote, Essays Biographical and Critical “All sadness and melancholy come from the devil” (86). Once their marriage starts to fall apart, Sykes uses Delia’s anxiety of snakes against her. Andre’ Ménez, who wrote The Subtle Beast, states, “Being sometimes poisonous, hidden in the shadows; slowly and mutely guiding, snakes have often been deemed powerful and shifty, evil creatures whose major aim was to frustrate the natural and proper development of life” (9).
The spiritual correlation of good and evil is set up in two occurrences in this narrative. On one occasion, Sykes sneaks up behind Delia and uses a whip to frighten Delia by placing it on her shoulders, making her assume that it was a snake. Delia yells, “Sykes, why you throw

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