Another symbol in the storm is the chinaberry tree

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world into a palace of gems,” mirroring how euphoric they were afterwards (Chopin 864). Another symbol in “The Storm” is the chinaberry tree, which denotes womanhood and fertility. When it was struck by lightning, Calixta’s womanhood was set alight and she indulged in her sexuality. Another motif was the recurring description of white – the white bed, white neck, white throat, white breasts, etc. This symbolizes the purity and passion that Calixta was to Alcee; she was all things good and light, attracting him to her like moths to a white flame. A more easily missed symbol in “The Storm” was the can of shrimp that Bobinot purchased for Calixta. It revealed his thoughtfulness and love towards Calixta and made readers sympathize with him, and possibly generated animosity towards Calixta for being adulterous to a mindful husband. While the symbolism in “The Storm” primarily represents the story as a whole, the abundant examples of symbolism in “Sweat” work together to create more meaningful insight into the characters’ lives. Christian symbolism dominates the theme of “Sweat,” influenced by Hurston growing up with a Baptist preacher father. The first prominent symbol is the snake that Sykes brings into their home, with the intention to antagonize and eventually even harm Delia. The very fact that he goes out of his way to capture it just to further aggravate her is prime example that the snake represents Sykes himself and the entirety of the abuse he exacts on Delia. In the Bible, snakes represent Satan, and in Delia’s life, Sykes is Satan. He makes her life a living Hell, just out of spiteful evil. Additional religious symbols include the river Jordan, which
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Tran 7 to African American slaves often represented liberation from the harsh realities of oppression. Delia’s church songs of crossing the river Jordan meant crossing into liberty awaiting on the other side. So when Hurston writes “… the cold river was creeping up and up to extinguish that eye…” it is referring to the river Jordan “killing” Sykes and granting her freedom from his evil at long last (Hurston 874). Sykes dying in the utter darkness signifies his spiritual blindness and damnation for his sins. Delia is also representative of Eve: just as the snake tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, the snake attacking Sykes tempted Delia to look the other way, and like Eve, she gave in. Delia awaits Sykes’ death under a chinaberry tree, symbolizing her waiting under her womanhood and independence, now thriving and free. A chinaberry tree is also said to be the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, yet another religious tie. Other significant, yet secular symbols include the house in which Delia and Sykes lived. It exemplified all of Delia’s hard work and what she had to show for it. It was the one thing she cherished and poured her heart and soul into, and the reason she persevered through enduring Sykes. The title, “Sweat” regards Delia’s work ethic and represented her life for the past 15 years: “Sweat! Sweat! Sweat! Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat!” (Hurston 867).
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