ENG243 IndWes Sweat By Zora Neale Hurston Discussion Help



In this discussion, you will discuss the short story “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston.

You will focus in part on the issues of justice and mercy in the lives of an African-American couple whose marriage is marked by significant domestic abuse. You will explore the ways in which biblical allusions, symbols, and characterization contribute to the communication of messages about faith in God and the nature of humankind.

Upon successful completion of this assignment you will be able to:

  • Identify various examples of biblical allusions, symbols, and characterization.
  • Explain how various literary devices are used to communicate truths about God and/or humankind in a work of fiction.
  • Construct an organized, coherent, specifically supported literary analysis.
  • Analyze the message of a literary text using specific biblical principles.




You are strongly encouraged to review the instructions for Dropbox 4.5
before you read this Hurston story. You will be writing on this same story for Dropbox 4.5, and you may be able to gather the information you need both to answer the questions for 4.2 and write the paragraphs for 4.5 during your first reading of this story.

Read the headnote on Zora Neale Hurston (pp. 221-223). Then read “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston (pp. 225-234) and answer the following questions:

1. List three character traits that Hurston reveals in the character Sykes in the beginning of the story.

2. List three character traits that Hurston reveals in the character Delia in the beginning of the story.

3. How do the character traits of Sykes contribute to his fate at the end of the story?

4. How do the character traits of Delia contribute to her fate at the end of the story

5. Identify two ways in which Delia is similar to the narrator from the story “The Yellow Wall-paper.

6. Do you believe that Hurston wants to think of Sykes’ death as a form of justice? Support your answer using at least one quote from the text.

7. Review the definitions of “conventional symbols” and “private symbols” in the Literary Glossary (4.2). In Western society, what are the conventional symbolic meanings for a snake, and where does this symbolism come from?

8. What do you think the snake symbolizes in the story “Sweat?” Explain your answer.

9. The great power of biblical allusions is that often with a short phrase or even a single word an author can allude to an entire biblical story and imply a rich set of parallels between characters in her story and characters in a biblical story. For instance, which one of the Ten Commandments does Sykes accuse Delia of breaking early in the story?

10. Does it seem “just” to you that Sykes accuses Delia of being a hypocrite because she breaks this commandment? (Explain your answer with specific evidence from the text.)

11. Who in the New Testament was also accused of breaking the Sabbath by healing someone?

12. Do you think that Hurston wants the reader to believe that Delia is guilty for Sykes’ death? Explain your reasoning and support your answer with at least one quote from the text.

13. Find one additional biblical allusion in the story and explain how it is used to characterize Delia or Sykes or to contribute to the story’s message

14. Write a thesis statement for this story using the following pattern: In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat,” she uses
(specific literary device #1)and
(specific literary device #2) to show that
(universal theme).