Sweat CommonLit Answers

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Text-Dependent Questions And Answers

Q.1. Which statement best expresses a major theme of the short story?The consequences of people’s actions eventually catch up with them.
Q.2. How does the author’s characterization of Bertha help reveal Delia’s attitude toward Sykes’ affairs?By describing only Bertha’s negative characteristics, the author hints at Delia’s confidence in her own desirability as a wife.
Q.3. How is the discussion of men on the porch of the store in paragraphs 30-41 important to the passage as a whole?It provides insight into Delia’s marriage and Syke’s character as a man.
Q.4. What does the phrase “she knew the cold river was creeping up and up to extinguish that eye” reveal about Sykes at the end of the story?He was dying.
Q.5. Which statement best describes the story’s resolution?It is ironic that Sykes is killed by the snake he brought to the house to torment Delia.
Q.6. How does the resolution contribute to the story’s overall meaning?It demonstrates how living an evil life will come back to haunt a person.
Q.7. How does the author’s decision to open with the “bull whip” scene contribute to the overall meaning of the story?The author’s decision to open with the “bull whip” scene contributes to the overall meaning of the story in a few ways. Firstly, it highlights the abusive nature of the relationship between Delia and her husband. The use of a bull whip suggests extreme violence and cruelty, indicating the severity of the abuse Delia endures. This sets the tone for the rest of the story and emphasizes the oppressive environment in which Delia lives. Additionally, the scene also showcases Delia’s resilience and determination. Despite the abuse, Delia refuses to be driven out of her own home. This demonstrates her strength and unwillingness to be a victim, which becomes a central theme throughout the story. By opening with this scene, the author establishes Delia as a strong and resilient character, setting the stage for her eventual empowerment and liberation. Overall, the “bull whip” scene contributes to the story’s meaning by highlighting the abusive relationship and showcasing Delia’s strength and determination in the face of adversity.

Discussion Questions & Answers

Q.1. Would you describe Delia’s actions at the end of the story as revenge? Why or why not? Do you think Delia should have forgiven Sykes in the end?
Answer: Delia’s actions at the end of the story can be interpreted more as self-preservation rather than revenge. She does not actively seek to harm Sykes, but rather chooses to protect herself and her home. She stands up to him, asserting her rights and contributions to their home, and refuses to be intimidated by him any longer.

As for forgiveness, it’s a subjective matter. Given the context of the story, where Sykes has been abusive and unfaithful, it’s understandable that Delia might not feel inclined to forgive him. However, whether she should or not is a personal decision and can vary based on individual beliefs about forgiveness and justice.


Q.2. In “Sweat,” Delia’s qualities as a woman and Sykes’s merits as a man are both treated as subjects of discussion and debate. How does the story explore gender stereotypes and expectations? Based on your own observations, as well as movies you have seen and books you have read, are modern-day relationships between men and women similar to or different from that of Delia and Sykes? How so?
Answer: “Sweat” explores gender stereotypes and expectations through the characters of Delia and Sykes. Delia is portrayed as a hardworking, submissive, and tolerant woman, which were typical expectations of women during the time.

She is responsible for all the household chores and even endures her husband’s abuse. Sykes, on the other hand, is portrayed as the dominant, abusive, and unfaithful husband, reflecting the stereotype of the male oppressor. He takes advantage of Delia’s hard work and treats her with disrespect and cruelty.

In terms of modern-day relationships, there are both similarities and differences. While it’s true that gender roles have evolved significantly and women are no longer expected to be solely responsible for household chores or to tolerate abusive behavior, there are still instances where these old stereotypes persist. However, it’s important to note that modern society generally promotes equality, respect, and mutual understanding in relationships, which is a stark contrast to the relationship between Delia and Sykes.


Q.3. What do you think causes Sykes to behave the way he does? Based on your understanding of his character and motivations, does he deserve what he gets at the end? Why or why not?
Answer: Sykes’ behavior is likely caused by a combination of factors, including his past experiences with women, his own insecurities, and his sense of entitlement.

He believes he is entitled to Delia’s money and loyalty, and will stop at nothing to get it. In the end, Sykes gets what he deserves as a result of his selfish and abusive behavior. He gets his comeuppance in the form of Delia’s newfound independence and her refusal to bow down to his will.


Q.4. In “Advice to a Newly Married Woman,” the author asserts that a home is a woman’s refuge. In what ways would the speaker of “Advice to a Newly Married Woman” agree with what Delia has been able to do with her home and finances? In what ways does Delia’s life disprove the assertions of the speaker in “Advice to a Newly Married Woman?”
Answer: The speaker of “Advice to a Newly Married Woman” would likely agree with the fact that Delia has been able to create a safe and secure home for herself and her family. They would also likely agree with the fact that Delia has been able to become financially independent from Sykes.

However, the speaker would likely not agree with the fact that Delia was able to achieve this independence without the help of a man. This goes against the speaker’s belief that a woman’s home should be her refuge, and that she should rely on a man to provide for her.


Q.5. The speaker in the poem “Verses Written by a Young Lady, on Women Born to be Controlled!” says that “wretched is a woman’s fate… Subject to man in every state” (Lines 1-3). How is this like Delia’s experience as Sykes’s wife? In what ways was Delia free to make her own decisions? Thinking about the ending of “Sweat,” what role did Sykes play in the decision Delia ultimately made?
Answer: Delia’s experience as Sykes’s wife mirrors the speaker’s sentiment in the poem “Verses Written by a Young Lady, on Women Born to be Controlled!” as she is subjected to her husband’s abusive behavior and control. Sykes often belittles her, interferes with her work, and even physically threatens her.

However, Delia does have some freedom in making her own decisions, particularly in her work as a washwoman, which allows her to maintain financial independence.

She also decides to stand up to Sykes, showing her autonomy and strength. The ending of “Sweat” reveals that Sykes’s abusive behavior and his decision to bring a snake into their home, which ultimately leads to his death, played a significant role in Delia’s decision to leave him to his fate. She chooses not to help him, demonstrating her final act of defiance and independence.


Q.6. What do Delia and the princess from “The Lady or The Tiger” have in common? What does the resolution of each story suggest about love and women in hard partnerships?
Answer: Without the specific text of “The Lady or The Tiger,” it’s difficult to draw direct comparisons between Delia and the princess. However, based on general knowledge of both stories, both Delia and the princess are women in difficult relationships who face moral dilemmas. Delia is in an abusive relationship with her husband Sykes, while the princess must decide her lover’s fate.

The resolution of “Sweat” suggests that love can be exploited and abused in difficult partnerships, leading to a breaking point and eventual liberation, as seen in Delia’s case. The resolution of “The Lady or The Tiger,” on the other hand, leaves the reader in suspense, suggesting the complexities of love and the moral dilemmas it can present in challenging relationships.

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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth
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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth is a seasoned linguist and literacy educator with over 7 years of experience in the field. Holding a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the prestigious Harvard University, Evelyn has dedicated her career to exploring the intricacies of language acquisition and promoting literacy among diverse learner populations.

With a passion for bridging the literacy gap and a belief in the transformative power of education, Dr. Wordsworth continues to contribute to the field through her insightful research and engaging instructional materials.




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