Zora Neale Hurston

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Sweat makes teaching easy.

Delia Jones

Delia is the protagonist and main character of “Sweat.” A hardworking middle-aged black woman, she makes her living washing other people’s clothes. Delia is married to the lazy and abusive Sykes. Her many years… read analysis of Delia Jones


Sykes is Delia’s abusive husband and the antagonist of “Sweat.” He first appears in the story by playing a nasty trick on Delia, and this event proves to represent his character as a whole… read analysis of Sykes
Minor Characters
Bertha is Sykes’ mistress from another town. She comes to live in a boarding house that he pays for. Most of the men of the town dislike Bertha and consider her ugly, but Sykes prefers her over Delia.
Joe Clarke
Joe owns the village store and has the respect of the neighbors who spend time on his porch. He explains Sykes’ abusive mindset to the other men using the metaphor of chewing sugarcane.