A couple of week's back I read Ann Petry's "Like a Winding Sheet" and was impressed at the great number of themes being explored: race, gender, class. And though I didn't set out to pick such a story, this week I found myself stumbling upon yet another story with those exact same themes. Granted, I would suggest that it's gender that dominates the discussion with Zora Neale Hurston's "Sweat."
It tells a story of a washerwoman named Delia married to an abusive, cheating, free-loading husband. We find Delia at such a point in her life that she's had enough. Readers would likely be relieved at that, of course, but it's not as easy to get away as they wish it was, and a bad situation just gets worse. Fortunately, a bit of luck finally goes her way (or rather, a bit of bad luck goes her husband's way).
It's interesting that Dexter got so much credit for toying with our moral compass, making us root for a bad guy because he punishes other bad guys, but really it's not an entirely new premise. Yes, in real life we frown on things like capital punishment, but when despicable characters in literature, movies, and music have gotten their comeuppance, we not so secretly cheer on their demise. Delia is no Dexter mind you, but...