Towards the end of "Sweat," we see Delia "climbing up in the hay barn" and lying there for an hour or more. What does she do there? Why is this important in the story?

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Delia runs out to the hay barn when she finds the rattlesnake her husband, Sykes, brought home to torture her inside her laundry basket. The snake evidently escaped its box by the door and found a comfortable place to rest atop her laundry. Delia is so frightened of snakes in...

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Delia runs out to the hay barn when she finds the rattlesnake her husband, Sykes, brought home to torture her inside her laundry basket. The snake evidently escaped its box by the door and found a comfortable place to rest atop her laundry. Delia is so frightened of snakes in general that she doesn't feel safe on the ground, so she climbs up into the loft. There, she cries at first, and then her fear turns to a "bloody rage." She experiences a "period of introspection, a space of retrospection, then a mixture of both." Finally, she feels an "awful calm." She says to herself, "Well, Ah done de bes' Ah could. If things aint right, Gawd knows taint mah fault."

Delia seems to have made a decision. She knows that the rattlesnake is loose in the house, but Sykes does not. She makes no effort to tell him or warn him of the danger inside. Instead, she falls asleep and wakes up the next morning. She sees Sykes chopping wood outside, having just returned from his mistress's home, and, when he goes inside the house, she creeps to the bedroom window. Delia listens as the snake rattles and eventually bites Sykes, and she all but ignores his pleas for help, allowing him to perish as a result of his own cruelty and treachery. Her time in the hay barn allowed her to think quietly and make a plan to escape her abusive husband and achieve some poetic justice.

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