Zora Neale Hurston: Short Stories
The Struggle of Finding a Home in African-American Literature College
The “American Dream” connotes a vision of a house with a white picket fence, a place of warmth and family, a secure place to lay one's head at night, a place to just be. Much of African-American literature since the 1900's demonstrates that the quest of a “home” for most African-Americans, complicated by racism, segregation, and oppression, becomes a frustrating and nearly impossible dream.
In Zora Neale Hurston's short story “Sweat,” Delia permits her husband Sykes' unemployment and infidelity; she even allows him to bring a snake onto the premises regardless of her fear of the creature, but Delia balks at the thought of giving up her home. The title of the story describes the work ethic of Delia which is further demonstrated in her discussion with the errant and selfish Sykes, “Sweat, sweat, sweat! Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat!” (Hurston 1023). When Sykes refers to the house as “his” in saying that he did not want white people's clothes in his house, Delia quickly and hotly reminds him that it is her “sweat... [that has] paid for this house” (Hurston 1023). Even as Delia comes to realize that it is too late to worry over her relationship with Sykes she realizes that she can never give up “...
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