After 15 years of marriage, what ultimately drives Delia to her decision to let Sykes die in "Sweat"?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The impetus for Delia's decision is really a compilation of years of abuse from Sykes.  His cheating, his disregard for her feelings, his misuse of her hard-earned money, and his condescension toward her all contribute to Delia's allowing Sykes to die. The "final straw" in this series of Sykes' abuses  is his getting the snake and keeping it at the house in spite of Delia's fears and pleas.  When she comes home one day, and the snake is still there, she gets up the gumption to tell Sykes that she hates him. At the dinner table that night, she confesses that she changed her church membership just so she wouldn't have to be around him or be seen with him. She ends her legitimate tirade by saying,

" 'Ah hates yuh lak uh suck-egg dog.' "

This confession that Sykes means nothing to Delia causes him to leave for the night, and allows Delia to realize that she is fine without Sykes, and so when she later finds the snake in her laundry basket and does not contain it, she has the "courage" to let the snake do its job when Sykes returns home.

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