Clybourne Park

by

Bruce Norris

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Steve Character Analysis

A white man in his thirties. He is married to Lindsey, with whom he is expecting a child, and with whom he has purchased the house in Clybourne Park. Steve is outgoing and friendly, but he has no sense of what is and is not appropriate to say in public. As a middle class, or upper middle class white man, Steve is rarely marginalized and therefore rarely offended. As a result, he has difficulty imagining that other people could be offended by the things he says. Throughout the second act, he demonstrates very little empathy for those whose lives are different from his own. Steve is played by the same actor who plays Karl in Act I.

Steve Quotes in Clybourne Park

The Clybourne Park quotes below are all either spoken by Steve or refer to Steve. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Race and Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition of Clybourne Park published in 2011.
Act 2 Quotes

Lindsey: Can I say? We talked about renovation. We discussed it. Because these houses are so charming and I know it’s a shame — but when you figure in the crack in the sub-floor and the cost of the lead abatement — and in a market like this one? It just made more sense to start from scratch.
Tom: Right. But: the Owners Association has a vested interest — Kevin and Lena call me up last month, they say Tom, we’ve got this problem, these people are planning to build a house that’s a full fifteen feet taller than all the adjacent structures…and I think we’d all agree that there’s a mutual benefit to maintaining the integrity — the architectural integrity…of a historically significant…neighborhood.

Related Characters: Tom Driscoll (speaker), Lindsey (speaker), Steve, Lena, Kevin
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

Lindsey: And you know, the thing is? Communities change.
Steve: They do.
Lindsey: That’s just the reality.
Steve: It is.
Lena: And some change is inevitable, and we all support that, but it might be worth asking yourself who exactly is responsible that change?
Lindsey: I’m not sure what you—?
Kevin: Wait, what are you trying to—?
Lena: I’m asking you to think about the motivation behind the long-range political initiative to change the faith of this neighborhood….I mean that this is a highly desirable area…And I’m saying that there are certain economic interests that are being served by those changes and others that are not. That’s all.

Related Characters: Lindsey (speaker), Steve (speaker), Lena (speaker), Kevin (speaker)
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:

Steve: The history of America is the history of private property.
Lena: That may be —
Steve: Read De Tocqueville.
Lena: —though I rather doubt your grandparents were sold as private property.
Steve: Ohhhhh my god. Look. Look. Humans are territorial, okay?
Lindsey: Who are you?
Steve: This is why we have wars. One group, one tribe, tries to usurp some territory — and now you guys have this territory, right? And you don’t like having it stolen away from you, the way white people stole everything else from black America. We get it, okay? And we apologize. But what good does it do, if we perpetually fall into the same, predictable little euphemistic tap dance around the topic?
Kevin: You know how to tap dance?
Steve: See? See what he’s doing?!!
Lindsey: Maybe quit while you’re ahead.
Steve: No. I’m sick of — No. Every single word we say is — is — is scrutinized for some kind of latent — Meanwhile you guys run around saying n-word this and n-word that and whatever. We all know why there’s a double standard but I can’t even so much as repeat a fucking joke that the one black guy I know told me —

Related Characters: Lindsey (speaker), Steve (speaker), Lena (speaker), Kevin (speaker)
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

Steve:… Are you “offended”?
Kevin: Nope.
Steve: Neither am I.
Lindsey: You can’t be offended, you moron —
Steve:…I can’t?
Lindsey: — because you’ve never been politically marginalized, unlike the majority of people in the world —
Steve: How can a majority be marginal?
Lindsey: — and, by the way, all women, everywhere, and it’s your classic white male myopia that you’re blind to that basic fact.
Lena: Why is a white woman like a tampon?
Lindsey: Why is what?
Lena: It’s a joke.

Related Characters: Lindsey (speaker), Steve (speaker), Lena (speaker), Bev Stoller, Karl Linder, Francine, Kathy, Kevin
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

Well you’re being an idiot. And in case you hadn’t noticed, the rest of the world has begun a more sophisticated conversation about this topic than you apparently are qualified to participate in at this incredible moment in history. I mean, I used to date a black guy. So what? I mean, seriously. Steve. Wake up.

Related Characters: Lindsey (speaker), Steve, Lena, Kevin
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

Lindsey: Well, I want to say this: I want to say I feel angry. And I’m basically kind of hurt by the implication that’s been made that, just because we want to live as your neighbors and raise a child alongside yours, that somehow, in the process of doing that, we’ve had our ethics called into question. Because that is hurtful.

Related Characters: Lindsey (speaker), Lena (speaker), Steve, Kevin
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:
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Clybourne Park PDF

Steve Character Timeline in Clybourne Park

The timeline below shows where the character Steve appears in Clybourne Park. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2
Neighborhoods and Ownership Theme Icon
...the center of the living room, six people sit in a circle: a white couple named Steve and Lindsey, and their lawyer, Kathy, and a black couple named Kevin and Lena, and... (full context)
Neighborhoods and Ownership Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
The group begins discussing a document of neighborhood guidelines for renovation. Steve and Lindsey have recently purchased the house, and want to make renovations. Specifically, they want... (full context)
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
...what a frontage is, and how the way frontage is defined will affect the renovations Steve and Lindsey want to make to the house. Kevin wonders if the language matters, but... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Kathy stands up to take a phone call from Hector, the architect, and Lindsey and Steve briefly argue about whether the perimeter of the house can be changed. Lindsey and Steve... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Kathy passes the phone to Lindsey, who wants to talk to Hector. Steve makes a comment about Spaniards, like the architect, and how they are temperamental. Kevin agrees,... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
...and Kathy do most of the talking. Eventually Lena tries to make an announcement, but Steve cuts her off, wanting to wait for Lindsey. There’s a pause in the conversation, and... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Lindsey returns. She explains Hector was upset that he wasn’t included in the meeting. Steve asks Lindsey what the capital of Morocco is, and he, Kathy, and Lindsey continue to... (full context)
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
...enters from the kitchen. He’s digging a trench and announces there’s been an issue, and Steve gets up and goes outside with him to deal with it.  (full context)
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Tom’s phone rings and he leaves the conversation to answer the call. Steve returns from the backyard, and explains the diggers hit something as they started working on... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Steve and Kevin laugh about how they both know Kyle Hendrickson. Kyle told Steve a joke,... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Neighborhoods and Ownership Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Steve immediately asks if when Lena discusses the value of the neighborhood she means historical or... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Lena asks Lindsey to clarify, but before she can answer Steve and Kathy begin to talk about how the neighborhood was originally German and Irish. Steve... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
...can be. She goes on to discuss housing projects and their deleterious effects on children. Steve agrees that creating an “artificial semblance of a community” is creating a ghetto, a word... (full context)
Neighborhoods and Ownership Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
...the neighborhood was predominantly black, with the exception of Mr. Wheeler at the grocery store. Steve and Lindsey are shocked at this revelation. (full context)
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
...becomes increasingly agitated, and she goes to compose herself in the corner of the room. Steve follows, and although they are talking quietly, the audience can hear as Lindsey argues there... (full context)
Neighborhoods and Ownership Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
...but Kathy snaps that it’s too late to redesign the house. She reminds Lindsey and Steve that they are not under a legal obligation to change the designs. (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Neighborhoods and Ownership Theme Icon
Steve interjects that Lena should just come out and say what she’s trying to say instead... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Lindsey attempts to distance herself from Steve as he continues to insist race was clearly a factor in the various issues Lena... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Neighborhoods and Ownership Theme Icon
Tom tries to get the group back on task, but they’re too far gone. Steve believes “the history of America is the history of private property,” humans are naturally territorial,... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Steve feels like his free speech is being stifled. And complains that “you guys” can say... (full context)
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
...but she finds the joke unfunny, while Lindsey continues to argue that it is offensive. Steve feels that Lindsey is not allowed to be offended, as it doesn’t concern her. Tom... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
The conversation continues to devolve. Kevin tells a joke about white men, and Steve responds with a joke about black men. Neither man is offended by the other’s joke,... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...at the “hostile joke.” Kathy says she feels that she is intelligent, not stuck up. Steve, frustrated, points out that in their earlier conversation Kathy didn’t even know the capital of... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Kathy begins to pack up to leave. Steve shares that one of the things that really offends him is “white suburban assholes still... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Lindsey calls out Steve as an asshole and a “regressive.” She announces that she used to date a black... (full context)
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Kevin ushers Lena out, and tells Steve and Lindsey they should just communicate through lawyers from now on. Steve remarks to Lindsey,... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
...and Dan backs off. Lena and Kevin turn to each other, as do Lindsey and Steve. The two couples engage in simultaneous arguments. Lena complains that Kevin is “trying to make... (full context)
Neighborhoods and Ownership Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Steve tells Lindsey that he thinks the planned house is too big, and Lindsey tells Steve... (full context)
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
As Lindsey and Steve were cleaning up, Dan opened the footlocker with his bolt cutters. Kenneth descends the staircase,... (full context)