Delia and her transformation in the story “Sweat”

January 24, 2019 by Essay Writer

Delia Jones is a weak protagonist who goes through unfortunate events with her husband to emerge as a strong protagonist in the end of the story “Sweat”. Delia starts off emotionally weak at the beginning of the story because she cannot stand up for herself, especially around her husband Sykes. She is a weak character because she is intimidated and fearful. Humans always mature when they run into bumps in the road. Delia hit bumps of her own and directly had an effect in the creation of a morally strong woman.

Delia begins the story absolutely terrified of her husband after his affair and other problems. Hurston writes in the first quote, “She lifted her eyes to the door and saw him standing there bent over with laughter at her fright” (Hurston 212). Right from the beginning of the story, Hurston makes it evident that Delia is terrified of her husband. She has the right to fear her husband, by the name of Sykes, after he over-criticized her for bringing “white folks” clothes into the house. The reason for Sykes being so critical of the “white folks” clothes could be because he is having an affair with a woman named Bertha who might happen to be white. Sykes tells his lover to,“git whutsoever yo’ heart desires, Honey” (Hurston 216). This part of the story is eye opening because Bertha does not have any actual lines in the story. Sykes might be critical of the “white folks” clothes because he does not want any relation between his wife and Bertha. The only explanation for her being white would be because of those clothes brought into the home cause it seems that he is using Delia’s hard earned money to buy Bertha anything she wants. Despite the mental abuse from her husband, Delia finds a way to make the best of the situation and focuses on her work to distract herself from Sykes. The narrative goes along and slowly Delia puts the negativity from her husband in the past.

Delia becomes a strong protagonist because of the way she turns her life around with self-confidence and concern about her own well being. The reader learns that she is done putting up with Sykes when Hurston writes, “She stood for a long time in the doorway in a red fury that grew bloodier for every second that she regarded the creature that was her moment” (Hurston 217). She chooses to act morally through her hard work and confidence in defending herself. The language that Hurston uses, such as “red fury” and “bloodier”, really emphasizes Delia’s hatred towards Sykes. The fact that she did not walk away after one incident shows there is some kind of secret attachment she has for her husband or that he threatened her if she decided to leave him. The secret attachment that Delia holds could be for tons of different reasons. The best explanation for it might be because Delia is one of those wives who does not care how her husband treats her. The occasional woman marries a man for his assets and company they give the woman. The other explanation for Delia accepting the harshness from Sykes could be him threatening her. If she is actually married to Sykes for the assets she could take a lot if they got a divorce. He can stay married to Delia and have an affair with Bertha without losing any assets or his wife.In this quote from Delia, Hurston writes, “If things aint right, Gawd knows taint mah fault” (Hurston 219). This is evidence that Delia and other humans should stay true to their own beliefs and how she knows she has done nothing wrong in such a toxic marriage. She is get- ting the message that Sykes is the one making her feel like a useless doormat. Finally, Hurston wants the reader to see that it is possible to move on from physical and mental abuse, “you done starved me an’ ah put up widcher, you done beat me an ah took dat” (Hurston 217). She took the degrading language and punishments from her husband. Delia explains how she takes everything Sykes throws at her and it does not effect her anymore.

How do humans deal with hardship, like Delia, and why is it so hard to get over the past? Life is always full of ups and downs, just when life seems to be going smoothly something can change in a heartbeat. Zak Khan states, “…it’s important to detach yourself from a situation long enough to think clearly without having people hanging over your shoulders” (Khan). Khan’s article relates very well to Delia and how she loosens the relationship with her husband. She is productive and does things that make her happy instead of thinking about Sykes, who cheats and is abusive. Gunjan Gupta explains why it is so hard to get over the past, “What happened in the past, happened. It happened because it had to happen that way. Now, it’s done. It’s over. It is what it is. I can’t do a thing about it, can I?” (Gupta). Gupta explains that a human can never for- get the past, he can only keep it as a memory and learn from it. Delia could not forget the fact that Sykes had an affair and abused her, but she learned a lesson to be confident in defending herself.

Delia is a strong protagonist because of the way she overcomes the hardships brought into her life. Delia, in “Sweat”, does not seem to stay true to her beliefs. She is a woman of God and asks for forgiveness for her husband as she goes on to watch him die. The reader can see as have saved his life. This is perfect evidence that Sykes was threatening her and now she is free. This quote from Delia also seems to be sarcastic. She says she can not do a thing about her husband’s death when really she could from her husband. If their relationship was really about assets and threats then the death of her husband is exactly what she desired. She continues to get through the negativity, even with her aggressive and abusive husband, Sykes. Delia comes along as a better person as she lives life in a way to make her happy but not to the extent of selfishness. All humans face adversity at some point in their life, and most people come out with more knowledge and being stronger than ever. Adversity makes people better if you are able to fight through it just as Delia did. Hurston developed Delia this way to show how humans can be their strongest, in times of struggle, if they are patient and stick to strong morals.

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