Sweat: Fiction and Natural Surroundings

Barry Webster’s short story “Sweat” is the narrative of the relationship between a girl, who sweats honey during her puberty, and her social environment. In the text, Webster explores the theme of self-acceptance. Although the depiction of the adverse social circumstances first deny the main character’s self-acceptance, she finally discovers at the end of the story that self-acceptance varies from circumstances to circumstances. Webster’s suggestion that self-recognition is different depending the surrounding is developed through the diction of her thought, he setting and the symbolism of the natural surroundings.

The social pressure at school first denies the main character’s self-acceptance. Through the use of diction, the narrator states that “l [Sue] though I could hide my affliction. ” In other words, Sue intends to conceal her problem to the eyes of the others, which is to sweat honey. The employment of the word “affliction” emphasis that to sweat honey is more than a simple sickness, but a shameful oppression. Hence, her thought indicates that she does not accept herself as a carrier of the illness.

When Jimmy asked Sue to go to the bushes with him, Sue accepts it. The narrator then makes an ironic interrogation that “If I found and gave way to a desire for Jimmy, would a balance be regained? Would my honey finally stop flowing? ” Of course, to accord love to Jimmy will release the main character from the illness of sweating honey is extremely ludicrous and will eventually not happen. However, her interrogation reflects her strong wish to find a way to heal her desperate problem of honey and finally to appear normal under the egards of her peers.

Thus, under the power of social pressure at school, Sue’s desires to cloak and to eliminate her sickness prove that she doesn’t accept herself as being the carrier of the disease. The natural surroundings, especially the wind, described by the narrator have an enormous symbolism suggesting that self- acceptance is unconditional. While Sue is in the bushes with Jimmy, she notices a wind passing and expresses her feeling that “The wind woke an excitement in my motionless body.

It made every pore in my skin open wide. The narrator also used the word “pores” while she describes her body that “from my pores came liquid, golden honey such as the bees crave. ” In fact, the word “pores” portrays the main character’s body. Sue mentions that the wind “made every pore in my skin open wide” means that every time the she gets in physical contact with the wind, she is forced to feel the presence of her body. Sue first states that “I’d always feared the Cartwright wind”.

In the last paragraph, as the she runs away from the school and eaches the open field near her house, she illustrates that “air will free me wind is what happens when air falls in love with itself”. Her apprehensive feeling for the wind is a depiction of her fear to “love” herself. In other words, the main character is deliberated from her fear to regard herself and accepts herself as she is. Thus, under the presence of the wind, the narrator changes her self-perception from inacceptable to acceptable. The setting of the short story represents another significant evidence to show that self-approval is unconditional.

Near the end of the story, the narrator finds herself in a “empty plain. ” The word “empty” emphasis that she is in total isolation from the society. Then, she starts to describe her body that “this body I lived thighs, this chest rising and falling like the swell of the ocean were mine??”were me. ” Without the presence of the social circumstance, the narrator is doing a self- identification by admitting “this body were mine??”were me. ” The main character immediately states after that ” I’ll love the sweetness of sweat”. In fact, sweat is Just sweat. No matter