Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston

Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston, an interesting short story that discussed the vileness of a physically and mentally abusive relationship between two individuals. This story also attempted to and succeeded in discussing the idea of retribution and karma. I found this story very interesting and it was something that I was able to follow. Something that Zora Neale Hurston does within her stories is be able to take dialogue from the time period, dialogue that for the average individual would be difficult to decipher and read. But for many black Americans this dialogue is exactly what we have grown up hearing, and it adds a sense of relatability to her stories. 

            The relationship between Delia and Sykes can be described as violent, and hateful. On many occasions through this story, he calls Delia names that can be labeled as degrading and hurtful. Even though they have been together for 15 years, you would think that there would be a sense of closeness and love between the two. But unfortunately for those 25 years Sykes has taken all of Delia’s love, and her ambition for their relationship and crushed it. He ridicules her by calling her a nigger woman, saying that she is too skinny, and unlovable, he even takes up with other women. A powerful statement made in this story was that Sykes simply “Made no room for her. [Delia]” However, Sykes did not take away her strength. She understands that she is the sole provider of the home and she has her own business to manage. The strength that we see in Delia, allowed me as the reader to hope that she may see peace and happiness one day.

            A common theme that we discussed this semester is the idea of retaliation or retribution. I knew when reading this story that Delia would soon find her retribution for the cruel and hard treatment she faced from her husband. Especially after he decided to torment her by placing a snake in their home. Sooner rather than later we finally see that his sick ways would be cut to an end after Sykes gets bitten by the snake, and we can assume that he has died. Something that I noticed during this part of the story was the way the sun was coming up, not only to symbolize a new day had arrived, but I also took it as a symbol of a way to say that a new life was beginning for Delia. One that she truly deserved.   

The Furies – Role of the Patriarchy

In Aeschylus’s The Furies, the concept of the patriarchy doesn’t fully extend to the exclusion of female entities in terms of law and politics. While among the gods, Zeus is the father of most gods and his word and will are practiced and held at the highest standard, as said by the god Apollo many times in his argument against the revenge-seeking Furies, some women in this society, and even among the gods, still hold some sort of powerful influence over the idea of justice. The goddess of wisdom, Athena, is sought out by Orestes for shelter and protection from the Furies, who are pursuing Orestes for committing matricide. The retributive justice that the Furies seek in Clytemnestra’s name asserts a high level of respect for women in society, especially mothers, which allows them to use the law and justice system to correct or settle wrongdoings done unto them. The goddess Athena also serves as a judge or mediator in the trial scene of the play, and her word is understood as the final say in the matter of Orestes’ fate. Athena seems to have more authority than the god Apollo does, considering Apollo and Orestes ask Athena for her guidance and judgement. While the women (or female entities) in this part of the drama clearly hold some sort of high authority, it is also clear that the patriarchy is still most powerful in Greek politics. Apollo often times refers to Zeus as the highest power and Athena casts her vote in favor of Orestes based on her relationship to her father Zeus and lack of relationship to any sort of motherly figure. Apollo even goes so far to say that mothers essentially have no role in parenthood, and are strangers to their children, only existing to birth and feed their young. The presence of a patriarchal society is also clear through the anger of the Furies, who furiously defend the concepts of motherhood and womanhood, and are angry and repulsed at the men in this play for holding little importance on the criminality of matricide. At the end of the play, Orestes is found not guilty and the power of the male authority is reinforced through this holding.