What is the role of the old men sitting on the porch in Sweat?

Expert Answers
bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The porch of the store is the gathering place for the old men to gossip, talk politics, and make jokes. They provide background that suggests Sykes was not always an abusive husband and that Delia used to be so very different before she started taking his abuse. The old men are the commentators on life in the town, sometimes suggesting that they should do something about men like Sykes. Old Man Anderson thinks they should teach Sykes a lesson, but no one acts on it. When Sykes shows up at the store with his mistress, they all leave.