The title is ironic in that Delia must work so hard to wash white people's clothes while her own are dirtied by sweat and blood. She is portrayed as a victim who must work hard because Sykes is a worthless, wife-beating philanderer--that is, until Sykes becomes the victim of his own prank. Then he is one who is sweating when he is bitten by the snake. He won't sweat long, however, before he will die. Delia will be free of his abuse, but she will probably continue to wash clothes.