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Assignment Instructions Answer the questions below related to the story “Sweat,”

Assignment Instructions
Answer the questions below related to the story “Sweat,” the theme of domestic violence, and the use of literary symbolism.
Literary Theme: Domestic Violence. In her TEDx Talk, Lizzy Glazer opens with some examples of emotional/verbal abuse and also references physical abuse in general. What specific behaviors, actions, words does Sykes employ that would qualify as emotional/verbal abuse as well as physical abuse? How has Delia been effected by this behavior over the years psychologically? What have been the physical consequences on her body? What are some possible reasons you believe Sykes behaves this way? Why might Delia have stayed with him so long?
The Snake as Symbol: Biology. After viewing the video of the mountain-bikers’ encounter with the rattlesnake, how would you describe the rattlesnake’s overall demeanor? Conduct some internet research and find out how rattlesnakes kill their prey. Somewhere in your answer, just briefly mention the name of the web site you used to find the information. It doesn’t have to be in “proper” MLA format. Now compare a rattlesnake to Sykes and his personality/behavior. What traits do rattlesnakes and Sykes have in common? Therefore, how might the rattlesnake symbolize Sykes himself? Review Professor Elbom’s video on symbolism to review the definition of literary symbols if needed.
The Snake as Symbol: Christianity. Delia practices Christianity, like many people who live in the Southern United States. In Christianity, snakes/serpents play a very famous role. Conduct some research on the internet and discover what snakes/serpents symbolize in Christianity. Somewhere in your answer, just briefly mention the name of the web site you used to find the information. It doesn’t have to be in “proper” MLA format. What figure/character in Christianity is the snake/serpent most associated with (Delia actually references this character twice in the story when referencing the rattlesnake). Since Sykes is associated with the rattlesnake in “Sweat,” what additional symbolic meanings might the rattlesnake also have? How is Sykes like the character in Christianity associated with snakes/serpents?
The Snake as Symbol: Pre-Christian Cultures. As an anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston was an expert on cultures from around the world and throughout recorded human history. Prior to Christianity becoming a major world religion, snakes had very different symbolic associations for many cultures. In fact, we still see this influence today. Many of you will eventually be entering the medical profession, the most common symbols for which are the Rod of Asclepius or the Caduceus. Locate images of these two symbols and describe them. What animal appears on them? Why are they often used to symbolize the medical profession? Next, research what snakes symbolized for many pre-Christian cultures. How did their symbolism differ from Christianity’s? Briefly mention where you obtained your information (don’t worry about MLA format). Finally, let’s apply it to the story. In a bit of irony, the rattlesnake actually ends up saving Delia’s life. How does the snake help Delia finally escape her abusive relationship? How, then, does the rattlesnake simultaneously symbolize what it did for Pre-Christian cultures?
An Introduction to Zora Neale Hurston
Talk about Living–Zora Neale Hurston never wasted a moment of her life: fearless, inquisitive, intelligent, she rarely stopped exploring. The videos below provide mere glimpses into a remarkably complex woman as well as the community and culture she wrote about. We’ll be using these insights to help us better explore and understand her short story “Sweat.”
These videos are excerpts from a 2008 PBS documentary about Hurston called Jump at the Sun as well as a 2005 documentary titled A Heart with Room for Every Joy. The latter is available in its entirity via one of the college’s databases called Films on Demand (accessible by following the same steps you used to get to the Macbeth film) if you wish to watch the whole film.
Eatonville, Florida in the Life & Work of Zora Neale Hurston
Where is Eatonville, anyway? Not too far, in fact, from where many of you are reading this sentence! Below is a map of the greater Orlando area. Marked in red is Eatonville, where Zora Neale Hurston grew up from the age of three (she was born and lived in Notasulga, Alabama until she was three). Eatonville, Florida in the Life & Work of Zora Neale Hurston
Where is Eatonville, anyway? Not too far, in fact, from where many of you are reading this sentence! Below is a map of the greater Orlando area. Marked in red is Eatonville, where Zora Neale Hurston grew up from the age of three (she was born and lived in Notasulga, Alabama until she was three).
Literary Theme: Domestic Violence

If the themes and conflicts in Macbeth are for most of us far-removed from our everyday realities (regicide, murder, hallucinations, and witchcraft aren’t situations we are ever likely to encounter), those in Hurston’s 1926 short story “Sweat” are, sadly, all too common: living with domestic violence (physical, emotional) and its consequences.
To help appreciate and empathize with the psychological and emotional universe that our main character, Delia, lives in, watch this brief TEDx Talk by survivor Lizzy Glazer. Her insights will partially inform our analysis of Hurston’s short story. NOTE: Some viewers may find parts of the video triggering or disturbing.
Literary Technique: Symbolism

English majors and literary scholars love debating one of the literary techniques Hurston adeptly employs in her story “Sweat”: symbolism. It’s closely related to the figurative language Shakespeare uses in Macbeth. In fact, some argue that literary symbols are just another type of figurative language (“metaphors”). To help us understand this extremely common technique (popular in movies, TV, and drama, too), professor Gilad Elbom of Oregon State University created this useful overview that we’ll be using in our discussion of “Sweat.”
Snakes & Symbolism

One of the secondary “characters” in “Sweat” is actually an animal–your old frenemy, the rattlesnake. This amusing predator also functions as the story’s primary symbol. Therefore, let’s meet one!
In this video, we meet what anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers, and, well, anyone with a modicum of intelligence, calls “stupid people.” For our lesson, we’re far more interested in the new “friend” they make. As you watch, take note of the overall demeanor and behavior of Ronnie the Rattlesnake: the one who appears in “Sweat” behaves quite similarly.

The post Assignment Instructions
Answer the questions below related to the story “Sweat,”
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