Sweat

by

Lynn Nottage

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Evan Character Analysis

Evan is an African American man in his forties; in 2008, he’s Chris and Jason’s parole officer after they’re released from their eight-year prison sentences. Evan encourages Chris and Jason to be straightforward with him and to open up about their struggles reintegrating into society and coping with guilt as ex-convicts. However, he also has no patience for nonsense—for instance, when Jason is uncooperative and racist during his parole meeting, Evan threatens him with a drug test and a negative report, and he’s vocal about his distaste for Jason’s white supremacist facial tattoos. Ultimately, though, Evan serves an important role as a confidant and voice of reason for Chris and Jason. He teaches both men one of the play’s central lessons: that shame is a destructive and counterproductive emotion and that the best course of action is to forgive oneself and others. As such, Evan is the catalyst for Sweat’s tentative resolution: at the end of the play, Chris and Jason take his advice, meeting up amicably and going to the bar to make peace with Oscar and Stan. Though the final scene leaves off with the four men standing in an ambivalent state of “fractured togetherness,” Evan’s guidance opens up the potential for reconciliation and sends the optimistic message that animosity, blame, and self-destruction can be overcome.

Evan Quotes in Sweat

The Sweat quotes below are all either spoken by Evan or refer to Evan. 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 1 Quotes

CHRIS (Escalating emotions): I dunno. A couple minutes, and your whole life changes, that’s it. It’s gone. Every day I think about what if I hadn’t…You know…I run it and run it, a tape over and over again. What if. What if. What if. All night. In my head. I can’t turn it off. Reverend Duckett said, “Lean on God for forgiveness. Lean on God to find your way through the terrible storm.” I’m leaning into the wind, I’m fuckin’ leaning […] What we did was unforgiveable…

Related Characters: Chris (speaker), Evan, Jason
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 7 Quotes

EVAN: I’ve seen enough guys in your situation to know that over time it’s…it’s crippling. I’m not a therapist, I’m not the right dude to talk to about any of this. But what I do know, is that it’s not a productive emotion. Most folks think it’s the guilt or rage that destroys us in the end, but I know from experience that it’s shame that eats us away until we disappear. You put in your time. But look here, we been talking, and we can keep talking—but whatcha gonna do about where you’re at right now?

Related Characters: Evan (speaker), Jason, Chris, Oscar, Stan
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Sweat LitChart as a printable PDF.
Sweat PDF

Evan Character Timeline in Sweat

The timeline below shows where the character Evan appears in Sweat. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...has a black eye and whose face is covered in white supremacist tattoos, sits with Evan, his African American parole officer. Evan asks some questions about Jason’s employment and living situation,... (full context)
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Jason begins to fidget, and Evan asks him if he’s going to tell him what happened. Jason continues to be uncooperative,... (full context)
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Evan continues to question Jason and slowly drag information out of him, piecing together that a... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Evan stares Jason down, and Jason halfheartedly repeats “Fuck you!” Evan again orders Jason to pick... (full context)
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Evan continues asking Jason what’s going on even as Jason keeps resisting—he’s not going to let... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Evan turns around, and the scene switches: he’s now in a parole meeting with Chris, an... (full context)
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Evan points out that Chris seems anxious, and Chris replies that he’s angry with himself. He... (full context)
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Chris begins to emotionally spiral, telling Evan how he constantly thinks about what would have happened if he’d made different choices even... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 7
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...fall 733 points, the second-worst decline in history. In his parole meeting, Chris finishes telling Evan about his encounter with Jason. Evan reassures him that it’s okay not to feel angry... (full context)
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Evan shifts, and the scene switches. He’s now talking with Jason. Evan suggests that Jason and... (full context)