Writing Assignment on
Zora Neale Hurston's "Sweat"

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Write an essay on one of the following topics:

Topic A.  In how many respects are the protagonist and antagonist of this story foils to each other?  (Be as comprehensive as you can.)  How does this systematic contrast affect our evaluation of the protagonist's action (or inaction) at the end?  How does the song Delia sings on the way home from the "love feast" at church ironically connect with the final sentence of the story?

Topic B.  For Alice Walker, a tragic fact of Zora Neale Hurston's later life lies in the psychological consequences of her not having been able to achieve financial independence through her writing, and the effect of these in turn on the quality of her later fiction.  Summarize briefly what Walker is getting at.  Then show how "Sweat" (published in Hurston's first collection of short fiction) shows Hurston's appreciation of the need to achieve personal independence.  What circumstantial facts and traits of character enable Delia to achieve this, in the end?

Topic C.  Explore the range of significance of the snakes and snake-like things in "Sweat."


  Consult the Study Guide to this story before attempting this writing assignment.

  You may also wish to review the general instructions on writing assignments.


  Suggestions are welcome.  Please send your comments to lyman@ksu.edu .

      Contents copyright 1999 by Lyman A. Baker

Permission is granted for non-commercial educational use; all other rights reserved.

  This page last updated 29 March 1999.