How much time passes in "Sweat"?

The amount of time that passes in "Sweat" is approximately three months. The story begins around the middle of spring and ends early in August.

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"Sweat" begins on a Sunday night. At this point, we only know that it is spring, but as we will see, it must be the end of April or possibly the beginning of May.

The Sunday the story opens, Delia sorts her laundry and argues with Sykes. She...

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"Sweat" begins on a Sunday night. At this point, we only know that it is spring, but as we will see, it must be the end of April or possibly the beginning of May.

The Sunday the story opens, Delia sorts her laundry and argues with Sykes. She works for a week, then heads out on her pony on Saturday to collect and deliver clothes to her clients.

We then learn that three months have passed. During this time, Sykes has been having an open affair with a woman named Bertha, and Delia suffers because of this. She and Sykes now fight all the time. July passes into early August. We know the story must have begun in late April or early May because three months later is the beginning of August.

Sykes brings home the rattlesnake on a Saturday night in early August. The next day, Delia goes to church and comes home late, as she stays for the nighttime "love feast," which helps her feel better. That night, Sykes is bitten by the snake and dies, ending the story.

The dates are not stated precisely, but Hurston has a clear timeline in mind, which moves over three months from mid-spring to mid-summer. This allows time for Delia, who has begun to assert herself as the story begins, to continue to change and grow into a person who can separate herself from Sykes.

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