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Steven Wood

Jerry Erath

Essay #4

7th March 1997


It is easy to see why a person would find "Sweat" an offensive story. Many who read this story will find that the style in which it is written to be degrading to the African American race. However, this assumption has little backing. Zora Hurston is clearly relaying a story that tells of her time. To say "Sweat" is stereotypical is to deny the fact that this is the way things were at one time.

For a person to acknowledge the way things were is to merely recall history. Why should a race be ashamed of their history? They would better their own values by taking this story for what it is worth. Not only does it tell of their ancestors way of life, but it shows how things have changed for the better.

If one could not write stories about their experiences in the past the public would be unknowing of its culture and heritage. Hurston even used reference to Jewish people in this story. They also were slaves and were faced with over four hundred years of hardships and inequalities. It has not been known for the people of the Jewish faith to be insulted by the Bible which tells their stories. In fact, they use it as a way of life. It serves as a learning tool that proved how strong they were and how much suffering they had to endure. When they are faced with problems they relate back to stories, just as this, to find that strength once again.

Mrs. Hurston, being a African American herself, should have the right to tell a story of her heritage without being persecuted. The fact that that is how African Americans spoke during that time should not be cause for embarrassment. It is just a fact of how things were. When relating a story from a certain time period, it should be written in the dialect used at that time.

The people who find this story demeaning are obviously choosing to not believe this is how things were. If you change the facts, you change the history. People of all nationalities have parts of their heritage that they would rather not admit to, but a mistake made should be noted and then changed if possible. It should not be forgotten due to its unpleasantness.

The more African Americans are ignored for their differences, the more they have to set themselves apart from the "typical" white American. For example, black people were given equal rights and equal opportunities in the working world with affirmative action. These things were obtained through the request and demanding of African Americans so they could be equal Americans. Once these things were obtained, they set out to make themselves as different as possible. It is very understandable that they would want to differ from those who caused them so much humiliation as a race. In fact, for them to want to run out and act the same way would be hypocritical. The need for difference is not only understandable, but expected.

Hurston portrays African Americans with the underdeveloped speech which they had at that time. Not only does she portray their speech habits, but also tells of their daily life experiences. The main character should be a model for African Americans today. She was humble and didn't have too much pride. She was willing to do what it took to survive. She had a hard life but dealt with it believing that all who did wrong would reap what they had sewed.

The African Americans today should take notice and not be too proud to admit the things they wish to forget.

Source: Essay UK -

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