How do the words and actions of Sykes in paragraphs 4–6 of "Sweat" foreshadow possible events in the story? Why might Skyes be "hoping, praying for an argument" in paragraph 9? How does it shape your perception of him?

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Foreshadowing offers hints or preparation regarding what might happen later in a story. In paragraphs 4–6 of "Sweat ," Sykes places his bullwhip across Delia's shoulders as a joke, knowing she is frightened of snakes. When she reacts fearfully, he laughs, finding her terror funny. This characterizes Sykes as...

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Foreshadowing offers hints or preparation regarding what might happen later in a story. In paragraphs 4–6 of "Sweat," Sykes places his bullwhip across Delia's shoulders as a joke, knowing she is frightened of snakes. When she reacts fearfully, he laughs, finding her terror funny. This characterizes Sykes as having a sadistic streak. It foreshadows that he will use Delia's fear of snakes again as a weapon against her. His words also show that he dislikes her fear and weakness. He says if she is such a "fool" as to be scared of an "earthworm" or a "string," he doesn't care if he frightens her.

In paragraph 9, Sykes kicks around the clean laundry Delia has done to earn money. He might be "hoping, praying, for an argument" because he is a man full of pent-up rage at his situation, unemployed and dependent on his wife to support him through her hard labor. He is a bully, too, and instinctively knows that the more Delia gives in to him without fighting back, the more he will be encouraged to torment her. An argument would help him express his pent-up emotions and encourage him to respect Delia for standing up to him rather than being a doormat.

All of these interactions might shape our perception of Sykes as an angry man with a mean streak who is not good for Delia.

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