Sweat

by

Lynn Nottage

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Brucie Character Analysis

Brucie is an African American man in his forties; he’s Chris’s father and Cynthia’s estranged husband. In 2000, nearly two years after being locked out from the textile mill where he works, Brucie has become addicted to drugs and has resorted to stealing from Cynthia, which leads her to kick him out. Now, Brucie feels hopeless and purposeless as he attends rehab and accepts union handouts, all the while facing racism from white union members. Though Chris has fond childhood memories of Brucie standing strong like a “warrior” during union protests, he now worries about Brucie and reluctantly hands over cash to his struggling, strung-out father. When Chris and his friend Jason are similarly locked out of their jobs at Olstead’s Steel Tubing, Brucie encourages them to take the concessions Olstead’s offers and even to move on to bigger and better things rather than end up indefinitely unemployed like him. Brucie desperately wants Cynthia back, and he hopes that Chris will take advantage of the higher education available to him rather than waste his life away at a factory. As a downtrodden man who desperately wants to work and provide for his family, Brucie represents the existential malaise, psychological suffering, and addiction that can arise from financial hardship.

Brucie Quotes in Sweat

The Sweat quotes below are all either spoken by Brucie or refer to Brucie. 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:
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theatre Communications Group edition of Sweat published in 2017.
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

CYNTHIA: […] let me tell you something, once he started messing with that dope, I don’t recognize the man. I know it’s tough out there, I understand. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He went through hell when his plant locked him out, I understand, but I can’t have it.

Related Characters: Cynthia (speaker), Brucie, Stan, Tracey
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 17-18
Explanation and Analysis:

CYNTHIA: Who knows? I might apply.

TRACEY: What?! Get outta here.

CYNTHIA: Why the hell not? I’ve got twenty-four years on the floor.

TRACEY: Well, I got you beat by two. Started in ’74, walked in straight outta high school. First and only job. Management is for them. Not us.

CYNTHIA: More money. More heat. More vacation. Less work. That’s all I need to know.

Related Characters: Cynthia (speaker), Tracey (speaker), Stan, Brucie
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 4 Quotes

STAN: […] That’s when I knew, I was nobody to them. Nobody! Three generations of loyalty to the same company. This is America, right? You’d think that would mean something. They behave like you’re doing them a goddamn favor […] they don’t understand that human decency is at the core of everything. I been jacking all them years and I can count on my hand the number of times they said thank you. Management: look me in the eye, say “thank you” now and then. “Thanks, Stan, for coming in early and working on the weekend. Good job.” I loved my job. I was good at my job. Twenty-eight years jacking. And look at my leg! That’s what I get.

Related Characters: Stan (speaker), Brucie
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

BRUCIE: […] this old white cat, whatever, gets in my face, talking about how we took his job. We? […] He don’t know my biography. October 2nd, 1952, my father picked his last bale of cotton. He packed his razor and a Bible and headed North. Ten days later he had a job at Dixon’s Hosieries. He clawed his way up from the filth of the yard to Union Rep, fighting for fucking assholes just like this cat. So I don’t understand it. This damn blame game, I got enough of that in my marriage.

Related Characters: Brucie (speaker), Stan
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 37-38
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Sweat LitChart as a printable PDF.
Sweat PDF

Brucie Character Timeline in Sweat

The timeline below shows where the character Brucie appears in Sweat. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...successful night—lots of people turned out for Tracey’s birthday party. Stan was hoping to see Brucie, but Cynthia reveals that she kicked Brucie out (again) after he stole all of her... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...the news, a brass hardware maker plans to open a 280,000-square-foot factory in Leesport, Pennsylvania. Brucie sits sipping a drink at the bar, where the Republican debate between Keyes, McCain, and... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Brucie complains that he’s worked at the mill since he was 18, and now the company... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Stan sympathizes with Brucie: he says he’s thankful he got injured because it allowed him to escape the prison... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Just then, Cynthia, Tracey, and Jessie enter the bar. Cynthia and Brucie have a tense exchange, and Tracey and Jessie encourage Cynthia to ignore Brucie’s attempts at... (full context)
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...turns to the promotion to Warehouse Supervisor that Cynthia and Tracey are both going for. Brucie offends Cynthia with a joke that Olstead’s must be desperate to consider them, after which... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 7
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...takes measures to combat urban blight. As Chris and Jason rush out of the bar, Brucie (who’s smoking a cigarette outside) asks Chris if his mom is inside. Chris says she... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Brucie laughs cynically and warns Chris and Jason that this is only the first step; he... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Tracey begins to reminisce about their trip to Atlantic City with Brucie and Hank for Cynthia’s 25th birthday, when a drunken Cynthia viciously dug her nails into... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...Reading are killed in a car accident. Jason and Chris stumble into the bar, where Brucie is slumped over at a table, looking high. Relieved to have found his father, Chris... (full context)
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Chris tells Brucie not to let the lockout get to him, and Brucie reassures Chris that he’s okay.... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Brucie worries that protesting with the union isn’t such a good idea for Chris, but Chris... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...strong on the line; he and Jason are adamant that Olstead’s won’t break them. But Brucie remains skeptical: he tells Chris that they don’t “give a damn about your black ass”... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...Stan that they should get out of Reading. Chris doesn’t want to end up like Brucie, and he longer cares what people will think of him if he goes against the... (full context)