Sweat Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 52 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Sweat.
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Oppression

One of Hurston's central preoccupations in "Sweat" is the problem of oppression within the black community. Sykes's ceaseless cruelty towards his wife is by far the most difficult part of Delia's situation, and she must seek emancipation from her tyrannical husband before she tries to address the wider system of racial inequality.

This is not to say that Hurston oversimplifies Delia's problems; her poverty and hard work are inextricably connected with whites, for whom she must work. A major irony in the story is that Delia must work so hard to clean white people's clothes while her own clothes are dirtied with sweat and blood. It is precisely the combination of white racism and spousal abuse that leads Delia to a level of desperation not at all uncommon amongst black women attempting to carry the burden of two forces of oppression at once. Given the reality of her...

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This section contains 857 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Sweat Study Guide
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Gale
Sweat from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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