Character Analysis in “Sweat” Play by Lynn Nottage
Role of Character
The selected minor character is Brucie, an African man; the husband to Cynthia and father to Chis. Nottage uses Chris to illustrate how financial hardship can lead to psychological suffering, illness, and addiction. Brucie becomes addicted to drugs two years after being fired from a textile mill. Eventually, he resorts to stealing from Cynthia, which leads him to be chased out of the house. The occurrences make him feel purposeless and hopeless and he opts to attend a rehab (Nottage 73).
He further faces racism from the members of the union. He uses his experience to encourage his son to take the concessions at Olstead rather than remaining jobless like him. He also encourages Chris to prioritize on education as he believes that education is the solution to many problems in life. The author carefully selected Brucie’s role to illustrate how financial challenges can create significant problems in a person’s life.
Olstead’s isn’t for you, Analysis
The quote illustrates the changing expectations of the employment setting. Tracey, an employee at Olstead, explains how the company operates by stating that one ought to know someone to earn an opportunity to work in the company. In particular, she mentions how her father worked in the company, she is employed there, and her son is also a worker at the organization. Importantly, she perceives Olstead as a light-skinned people’s opportunity and particularly, those of European descent. Thus, she tells Oscar that Olstead is not for him to imply that the organization only employed a specific type of people (Nottage 60).
She utters the statement after Oscar asks about jobs at the company yet she is of an American-born descent. Tracy is justified as historically, people earned employment opportunities at the organization through connections; however, that is the case now. She is shocked to learn that Cynthia, an Africa-American is assigned the company manager position. Here, Nottage illustrates the impact of uncomfortable role shifts on group dynamics.
Cynthia and Tracey are an ideal pairing as they are used to demonstrate a major theme of the study as illustrated in question 1 above, race and class and its impact in the workplace. Importantly, Cynthia’s promotion at work affects work dynamics and particularly her relationships with Tracey. Initially, the two employees are friends but and Cynthia works as a factory floor cleaner. However, she is promoted to a higher rank of a managerial position while other employees are laid off and downsized, including Tracey.
Cynthia’s promotion creates doubts of racial discrimination tendencies at the workplace. Before the financial stress created by layoffs, there is a growing conflict between the various ethnic communities in the society. Although Cynthia gained the position rightfully, Tracey insists that “they needed a minority (Nottage 59). By rejecting Cynthia’s success as a reactive action, Tracey restricts Cynthia to her race, showing how alleged economic injustice can contribute to historically non-existent discrimination.
While Tracey is possibly reasonably resentful of the lockout and Cynthia’s role as a manager, her bigotry towards her friend is unjustified and undoubtedly malicious. She does not accept that an African American can be appointed such a high organizational ranking. The reaction illustrates racism and economic struggle. Particularly, the slow breakdown of their relationship reveals how financial hardship can necessarily lead to racial conflict, not only among close friends.
Nottage, Lynn. Sweat (TCG Edition). Theatre Communications Group, 2017.