Hurston vs. Wright
Hurston vs. Wright
Delia Jones, the protagonist of Sweat, and Dave Saunders, the protagonist of A Man Who Was Almost a Man, are two very diverse characters, yet they seem to share the same situation. Saunders is concerned and worried that everyone around him sees him as a boy. He focuses on showing other people that he is a man. This preoccupies him so much, to the extent that he ends up making poor decisions. Jones, on the other hand, is a hardworking woman with a very lazy husband. Like Saunders, she spends her days working for the white people so that she can earn a living. The two characters live at a time when racism was acceptable in the society. They both face humiliation. However, while Saunders brings embarrassment and humiliation over himself, Jones has to endure the humiliation that her husband brings upon her.
Saunders is struggling to find a way to prove to the rest of the people that he is a man. Instead of accepting his situation and learning how to become more responsible, he decides to buy a gun. He ends up killing his employer’s mule using the gun. Because of this, he has to spend at least two years of his life paying for the mule. This brings him further shame and humiliation. His actions are further proof of his immaturity. They confirm the words that the rest of the people have been telling him. Instead of proving that he is a man, Saunders ends up letting the rest of the people know that he is still a boy who cannot make responsible decisions.
Jones works hard daily. The people in the town are aware of all her efforts. They know how much she struggles to make a living. However, Jones does not have the comfort of chatting and socializing with the rest of the villagers. Her husband humiliates her by having constant affairs. Even though the rest of the people know this and the men criticize his actions constantly, they do not do anything to confront him. Her husband uses the money she has worked so hard to get to entertain his affairs. Sykes can live in leisure, entertain his mistress, and pay for her necessities without any job. He also takes his mistress to the local grocery store in the clear view of the people in the town. These actions are an embarrassment and a total humiliation for Delia.
The two characters want power, although they want it for different reasons, and they show it differently. Delia gets the chance to stand up to her abusive husband when he steps all over the clothes she has been sorting. She has lived with insults and abuse from him all her life. In the end, as she witnesses his death from the snake, she chooses to do nothing about him. Instead, she just watches him, and she does not ask for any help. Delia wants her freedom, and the death of her husband will give her this. On the other hand, Saunders wants power so that he can prove to the rest that he is a man. The gun symbolizes power for him. He reasons that he can kill both white and black men when he has the gun. Saunders just wants power so that he can free himself from the abuse of others who consider him a child.
The two characters are very different, and they have diverse lifestyles. While Delia is a hard working woman in her adult years, Saunders is a young boy in his teens. The two face very different challenges in life. One has to deal with an abusive husband, and she leads a miserable life. The other does not know how to make decisions that will profit him in any way. They are both interested in power in different ways. The death of Sykes means that Delia gets the chance to live in freedom and peace. However, the shooting of the mule means that Saunders does not get the power he seeks.
Hurston, Zora N. Sweat. <http://wwwi.mcpherson.edu/~claryb/en255/handouts/sweat.pdf>
Wright, Richard. The Man Who Was Almost a Man. <http://xroads.virginia.edu/~DRBR2/wright.htm>
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