In " Sweat" By Zora Hurston,  is Delia right to let Sykes die at the end of the story ?

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While it is never morally right to allow someone to die when help is available, it is, nevertheless, understandable that Delia would not aid Sykes, who has been terribly abusive for many years.

Sykes is guilty of mental and physical abuse, as well as adulterous behavior, behavior that he flaunts before the community. The men on Joe Clark's porch talk about this behavior of Sykes's, and they castigate him. One says Sykes has beaten Delia enough to kill three women, and another says that there "oughta be a law about him." Then a man named Clarke speaks for the first time, observing that no law can make a man decent if there is no decency in him. He adds,

"We oughter take Sykes an' dat stray 'oman un his'n down in Lake Howell swamp an' lay on de rawhide till they cain't say Lawd a' mussy. . . . He done got too biggity to live—an' we oughter kill him."

Clearly, Sykes has the reputation of being a despicable man. It also seems unlikely that the men of her community would come to his aid even if Delia were to ask them to help.

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Delia Jones has been married to Sykes for fifteen years. After two months of marriage, he gave her the first brutal beating. She works hard and he spends her...

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