Theme of Good Versus Evil in Zora Neale Hurston's Short Story 'Sweat'

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In life there's always gonna be a good versus evil. There's going to be times where you are going to be a good person and you are gonna be fighting the bad in your life. Also in life you are gonna be the bad person where you are gonna fight off the good. In the short story Sweat by Hurston the theme is about good versus evil. Hurtson has two main characters where one is the good character fighting the evil from the other character. On the other hand the other main character is terrorizing the good in every way possible. Hurston really showed us how the good in good versus evil will always have a better ending than the evil. In life it is true because when you are good in life you beat all the evils and have a “happy” ending . On the other hand when you are the bad and you are trying to fight all the good eventually you are definitely going to pay for the consequences or what I believe in is karma.

In the short story Sweat by Hurtson uses language as one of the keys to get the reader's attention. The language of this story reminds me of the south back in the 60s or the 70s. The way how huston has her characters say a specific line makes me feel the tone of the voice from the characters.One example from the short story would be when delia yells at sykes because she is sweating her butt off to support her and sykes. “What’s it got to do with you, Sykes? Mah tub of suds is filled yo’ belly with vittles more times than yo’ hands is filled it. Mah sweat is done paid for this house and Ah reckon Ah kin keep on sweatin’ in it.” (hurtson 1023). Here Delai is expressing how she sweats to keep a roof over her and sykes head. Delia also yells at sykes how she wants to do hard work under her own house.. The words are laid out and shows me that she is fed up with Sykes . Here Hurston places Delia as the good and sykes as the evil. Delia is fighting the evil which means she is fighting against sykes and his actions because he tortures her and makes her suffer. Delia is trying her hardest to fight against all the bad that syked brings to her.

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At the beginning of the story Hurston has the characters labeled. What i mean by labeled is that Hurtson has delia labeled as the good and sykes as the evil. At the beginning of the story, Sykes is labeled as a bad guy because of the way he treats Delia. Delia is labeled has this hard working good character that cares for sykes in the household. An example why hurston wanst the reader to know that sykes is evil by the writer having him scare delia with a fake snake even though she scared of them. “Sykes, what you throw dat whip on me like dat? You know it would skeer me–looks just like a snake, an’ you knows how skeered Ah is of snakes.”(Hurston 1022). At the beginning of the story sykes is already labeled as the evil to sykes and it shows how delai is trying to fight all the bad off. So already Hustson wants the reader to hate sykes and love delia because sykes scared her with something she really hates and wants the reader ask why would he would do something like that to her. So knowing that evil can leave to consequences at the end of the story huston made sykes die trying to prank delilah by hiding a snake cause she was scared of snakes but it backfired on him and the snake bit which he eventually died for doing something evil to a person that trying to do the good in life. So Hutson made the bad character die and ade the good character live.

The tone that hurtson sets in this story is very good. She sets the tone of good vs evil. She sets the The opening scene of 'Sweat' by Zora Neale Hurston establishes the emotionally charged tone and the marital conflict with the initial interaction of the protagonist Delia Jones and the antagonist, her husband named Sykes. In this exposition to the narrative, at eleven o'clock on a Sunday night, Delia sorts the laundry that she has taken in from white people so that she can support herself; her wayward husband is still out. Before he enters the room she is in, he throws a bull whip onto her and terrifies Delia, who fears that it is a snake. Knowing that she is so frightened of these reptiles, Skyes cruelly laughs at her. He slapped his leg with his hand and almost rolled on the ground in his mirth. 'If you such a big fool dat you got to have a fit over a earth worm or a string, Ah don't keer how bad Ah skeer you.'With added antagonism, Sykes kicks the laundry that Delia has worked so hard to sort, and he orders her to be rid of white people's laundry. He also ridicules her as a religious hypocrite who attends church on Sunday and then works on the Lord's Day. Hearing this accusation from her adulterous and irresponsible husband causes Delia to grab her frying pan and threaten Sykes with injury, thus provoking greater conflict between them.

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Theme of Good Versus Evil in Zora Neale Hurston’s Short Story ‘Sweat’. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
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