Study Guide

Bertha in Sweat


What can we say about Bertha? She doesn't even have one line of dialogue in the story. Still, for someone we never actually see and who is only described by the characters themselves, she has quite the ugly (literally) presence.

Delia calls her an "ole snaggle-toothed black woman," (23) while Elijah Mosely swears "dat eight-rock couldn't kiss a sardine can Ah done throwed out de back do' 'way las' yeah," (37).

But by far our favorite insult is this doozy:

She don't look lak a thing but a hunk uh liver wid hair on it. (55)

Comparing someone to a hunk of liver? Man, if words could kill.