When we think about love, we usually associate it having positive effects on the lives of individuals. But as portrayed by William Faulkner in “A Rose For Emily and by Zora Neale Hurston, in “Sweat”, the effects of love can be deadly. In “A Rose For Emily”, Emily’s love causes her to kill to keep, and in “Sweat”, Delia’s love causes her to kill to let go. Because she grew up under a very strict set of laws, Emily comes into contact with very few men. Actually, the only man that has any influence in Emily’s life is her farther, who she loves very much.
As a direct result of her father’s protective nature over her, Emily grows inseparable from her father. So when her farther dies, his death sends Emily into a deep depression. One day Emily meets Mr. Homer Barron, who after dating for a short while she falls deeply in love with. Emily falls in love with Homer because besides her farther, he is the only man she has every spent any time with. Emily sees Homer as a father figure, which directly causes her to fall so deeply in love with him. When homer tells Emily that he intends to leave her, Emily does not understand how to handle this news.
Not completely recovered from the death of her father and deeply in love with Homer, Emily is unwilling to let another man she loves leave her. Emily kills Homer, puts him in their bed, and sleeps next to his dead body every night. Although we may view this of the behavior of someone who is psychologically ill, Emily sees this as totally normal. If Emily’s father let her socialize with members of the opposite sex more at a young age, she would not have become so easily attached to the first man she interacted with. Although Emily’s father is to blame for the majority of her suffering, Emily is not totally innocent.
After her father’s death if Emily would have been open to enjoying life and meeting people, she would have met numerous male friends and wouldn’t have attached herself to just one. In Zora Hurston’s story “Sweat”, Delia’s resistance to leave her husband demonstrates how much she loves him. Every since the second month of their fifteen year marriage, Sykes began beating on Delia. Other than her love for him, there is no other possible explanation for Delia to remain in a relationship for fifteen years and take the abuse that she takes. Delia stays with Sykes even though she knows he cheats on her.
Not only does he cheat on Delia but Sykes uses Delia’s money, because he has no job, to buy things for his mistress and to pay for her hotel. If she really didn’t care about Sykes, Delia wouldn’t take care of him the way that she does. She even loves him enough to try to make their relationship work in the midst of their daily fighting. Hurston says, “Delia and Sykes fought all the time now with no peaceful interludes. They slept and ate in silence. Two or three times Delia had attempted a timid friendliness, but she was repulsed each time” (p. 600).
This quote demonstrates that through all their adversity, Delia attempts to reconstruct their relationship. Her love for Sykes makes Delia ignorant to the fact the he will never change, and that all her attempts to ignite any flame in their relationship is void. Because he knows that she despises snakes, Sykes decides to bring a snake in the house, believing that it will drive Delia out of the house, therefore making room for his mistress. To make sure that his plan is a success, Sykes puts the snake in the hamper, which contained the clothes that Delia was to prepare for work the following day.
In the end the plan backfires and the snake bites Sykes on the neck. He calls for Delia to help him, but much to his dismay, she just stands there and looks at him. Although a slight possibility to save Sykes may have been present, Delia decides enough is enough. For the last fifteen years of her life Delia died a very slow death. Everyday Sykes killed her mentally, emotionally, and physically. He beat her, cheated on her, and talked about her, things which Delia was forced to rise from daily. So because she loves Sykes so much, Delia decides it just time to let go and be reborn once more.
Both authors demonstrate two strong sides of relationships between man and woman, and the different paths that the love leads each relationship to take. In Faulkner’s “A Rose For Emily”, Emily’s love for her father was so strong that when he died and she fell in love with Mr. Homer, she refused to let him go under any circumstances. She feels as though she needs the presence, dead or alive of someone that closely resembles her father. In Hurston’s “Sweat”, Delia is a fool in love for such a long time that she doesn’t see anyway out. She loves Sykes for who he was not what he has become.
Deep down inside she knows that the soul of the man she married died a long time ago, but love causes her to deal with the flesh of her foolish husband for so long. When the opportunity becomes available, her love allows her to Sykes’s flesh rest. Both authors show that sometimes when dealing with love it can be hard to let go, but in the end it’s what we should do. Also, both illustrate as a direct result of love, both women are psychologically damaged. The damage that Emily suffers causes her to kill, and the damage that Delia suffers allows her to take countless amounts of abuse, and in the end, to let Sykes die.