Betrayal of a loved one – it can be the most painful agony one experiences. In cases of abuse and betrayal, one is often left alone and unsure of where to go from there. Do they try to bring back the past? Do they leave? But the process is always more difficult than it seems, and many are often unable to survive it. With such a cruel struggle, it is hard to believe there is an escape or end. But there is. Above is a metaphorical painting titled simply Betrayal. It decpits someone, who from one point of view, is surviving the effects of betrayal. They may feel like they are stuck between two worlds, but they have managed to last. The painting may also be a depiction of guilt, from the perspective of the betrayer. The two-sided faces of the painting represents both sides, while also portraying the struggle between forgiveness and pain that is caused by one’s betrayal. The idea of the painting is to persevere through it, in striving for a better future.

            Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat,” can be seen as a companion piece to Betrayal. Set in the rural South in the U.S., the story follows the life of Delia, a hardworking woman who is constantly mistreated by her abusive husband Sykes. In her “struggle against male domination” and abuse, Delia remains resilient and continues to work hard to support both herself and her ungrateful husband (Lupton 48). Despite living with constant hardships, Delia manages to persevere. However, her resilience is put to the test when Sykes brings a rattlesnake into their home, hoping to scare her away so that he and his mistress can claim the property for themselves. The snake then becomes a symbol of imminent death, representing the constant threat hanging over Delia’s head. Yet, Delia manages to overcome this and attack head-on, and Sykes, who represents the evils of abuse and betrayal, finds his downfall as he is instead bitten and killed by the snake.

Delia represents the “female survivor,” a common depiction in Hurston’s works (47). Delia “…is both speaker and dreamer, a three-time wife whose vision of herself and the world breaks through the barriers ordinarily placed on women’s lives” (48). Her perseverance and strength go beyond gender norms as she represents the fight that women fight for their survival and happiness. In this survival, the snake as a symbol of death is shown to be something Delia was able to change. Her fate was changed, and death was forced to lay its head down. Her death from abuse was changed thanks to her fight, and the fight in the face of wrongful death will continue on too.

Works Cited

Briggs, Vic. Betrayal. 2013.,

Lupton, Mary Jane. “Zora Neale Hurston and the Survival of the Female.” The Southern Literary Journal, vol. 15, no. 1, 1982, pp. 45–54. JSTOR, Accessed 6 May 2024.

Neale Hurston, Zora. Sweat. Rutgers Univ. Press, 1997.

Associated Place(s)


  • Vic Briggs

Image Date: 

circa. 2013