Symbolism In Sweat, By Zora Neale Hurston
Although the author, Zora Neale Hurston, utilizes a varying array of symbolism, imagery, irony, and a magnitude of other literary techniques in the short story “Sweat”, it is the grim themes of marriage, abuse, and karmic irony that are the driving forces throughout the story. The protagonist’s role in her emotionally and physically abusive marriage was a reflection of the meager amount of self-respect and dignity she possessed. Furthermore, “Sweat” was a representation of the majority of African-American women in the early 1900s.
Like most authors and novelists, Hurston did not write to simply put words on a page. Hurston was a conduit for the muffled voices of the oppressed African-American people during the early to mid-twentieth century. While she did not lead over 20,000 people in marches through Selma or Washington, Hurston was an influential civil rights activist by her own merit. Laurie Champion states, “although critics initially objected to Hurston 's works because she failed to take a political stance that focused on the plight of blacks in a racist society, during the 1970s, her works were rediscovered and fresh critical interpretations pointed out social and political concerns she …show more content…
“He done beat huh ‘nough tuh kill three women, let ‘lone change they looks…we oughter kill ‘im.” Not only were the townsmen aware of the unfortunate situation, they felt compelled to do something about it. Nevertheless, these men never do.
The author uses the backdrop of the story to aid the symbolism and imagery depicted throughout the story. The scorching sun, Chinaberry tree, and most notably snakes, are all symbolic in nature, yet specifically pertain to the Floridian