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Why does Delia ignore Sykes's calls for help in "Sweat", and is she responsible for his death?

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Delia Jones has been abused by her husband, Sykes, for years. He has belittled and demeaned and frightened her just for fun, and all she's done is work and work to try to support them: "Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat!" Delia is so accustomed to being struck physically by her husband that she even takes up a defensive posture, brandishing a cast iron pan from her stove as a weapon. She knows that Sykes is unfaithful in their marriage, and she vows that the only way she's leaving the home that she's essentially paid for with her own work is feet first (i.e., dead). Sykes purposely goes around publicly with Bertha, his mistress, and even pays for her rent! We also see other men discuss how often Sykes beats his wife, saying that he's beaten her " 'nough tuh kill three women." One man implies that Sykes just isn't a decent man fundamentally.

All of these reasons seem to suggest why Delia allows him to die from his snake bite. She asked Sykes to remove the snake and felt the "red fury that grew bloodier" when she reflected on how Sykes enjoys "torment[ing]" her. He refuses her request, even telling her that he hates her. She may be technically responsible for Sykes's death, as her interference likely could have saved him, but in another way, it seems like poetic justice for "fifteen years of misery and suppression." Perhaps we could even consider it to be self-defense. If Delia had not allowed Sykes to die, then it stands to reason that he might one day kill her. The snake could just as easily have bitten her as it did him, and he didn't care about that!

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Delia chooses not to respond because she knows that, at long last, Sykes is getting his comeuppance. This is a man who's led Delia an absolute dog's life throughout all the years that they've been together. An abusive, hard-drinking serial philanderer, Sykes has made it clear on many occasions how little respect he has for his wife. It's not surprising, then, that Delia chooses to ignore his desperate cries for help as he lays dying from a poisonous snake bite.

Some might disagree, but I wouldn't say that Delia is being in any way vindictive here. All she wants is to be free, and so long as Sykes is alive, one gets the distinct impression that she will never attain such freedom. Delia's been subjected to domestic tyranny and abuse for so long that she just wants to escape and move on with her life. Although she probably wouldn't have wished such an unpleasant death on her husband, the outcome for her is much the same as if he'd died peacefully in his sleep.

As to the question of responsibility, I don't think that Delia is responsible for Sykes's death. If anyone's responsible, it's Sykes himself. After all, he was the one who brought the snake into the house with the express intention of scaring Delia out of her wits and driving her out of the family home.

Certainly, had Delia rendered immediate assistance to her stricken husband after he was bitten, then it's more than likely that he would've survived. But one cannot be absolutely sure. In any case, this being a prime example of "What goes around, comes around," it seems unfair to apportion blame to anyone else but Sykes for his untimely demise.

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If we argue that Delia bears some responsibility for her husband's death, it would have to be tempered with the torment she suffered throughout their marriage.

Delia hears her husband's cries when the snake attacks him.  She does not offer help to him. Yet, I think that this has to be balanced with the level of emotional pain she experiences.  It is clear that Sykes is far from a model husband and human being.  He enjoys tormenting her and disrespecting her. Even with this, Delia still shows loyalty towards her husband and their marriage.  When she comes home from a Sunday service and is about to start her evening work, hopeful restoration fills Delia's heart: 

She went on into the house with a new hope in its birth struggles. Perhaps her threat to go to the white folks had frightened Sykes! Perhaps he was sorry! Fifteen years of misery and suppression had brought Delia to the place where she would hope anything that looked towards a way over or through her wall of inhibitions.

However, when Delia sees the snake in her laundry basket, placed in there by Sykes, it is clear that she can bear this condition no longer.  

Hurston creates a "quiet" and "cold, bloody rage" within Delia.  Through "a period of introspection, a space of retrospection," Delia grows resigned to her condition when she says, "Well, Ah done de bes' Ah could.  If things aint right, Gawd knows taint mah fault."

Delia might have to shoulder some of the blame for Sykes's death because she did not assist him.  However, her inaction has to be seen in the context of their entire marriage.  It seems that an unfair burden would be placed on Delia if her actions are not viewed in this wider context.  This complex and nuanced view is Hurston's direct intention. She wishes to communicate the theme of how intense love can coexist with equally intense destruction, and is substantiated by Delia's reaction to Sykes's calls as he is dying.

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