What survivor qualities does the author present in her story "Sweat"?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Delia, the main character, is most certainly a survivor.  She entered into her marriage believing that she was marrying for love.  She discovers on her honeymoon that her marriage will be anything but one filled with love.  Her husband uses their money for his own vices and begins a series of extramarital flings.  When the story's action begins, Delia has worked years doing other people's laundry simply to survive financially, and her husband (Sykes) has been flaunting his new mistress around town. Delia even gives up her church so that she will not have to be embarrassed by Sykes' antics.

Delia is a survivor because she finally gets up the gumption to tell Sykes that he is not going to bring his snake (which she is deathly afraid of) into the house, and she gives him a piece of her mind for the first time in her marriage. He is shocked by this new side of his wife, but does not take her seriously.

When Delia is almost bitten by her husband's snake, she makes a fateful decision to let the snake remain in the house where her husband will encounter it unexpectedly.  Sure enough, Sykes comes home and is bitten by the snake.  Delia is within hearing and could call for help or help her husband herself, but she does not. In the end, she has the last word and ends up with her house, and her husband meets justice for his abuse of her.

Delia could have helped her husband, could have just let him walk all over her and embarrass her further, but because of her survivor instinct, she finally stands up for herself.