Sweat

by

Lynn Nottage

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Jason Character Analysis

Jason is a young white man of German descent; he’s Tracey and Hank’s son and Chris’s best friend. In 2008, Jason and Chris are 29 years old and have just been released from eight-year prison sentences for assaulting Oscar, a busboy at the bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, that they frequented. During the beating, Jason also inadvertently hit the bartender, Stan, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury. Back in 2000, before the assault, 21-year-old Jason is an irreverent troublemaker who works alongside Jason at Olstead’s Steel Tubing plant. Unlike Chris, he doesn’t have big dreams beyond getting a motorcycle—so when a lockout is instituted at Olstead’s, Jason feels utterly lost and consumed by violent rage over losing his job. Jason’s anger becomes racially motivated when Latinx temp workers are brought into Olstead’s (Oscar among them), and he ends up attacking Oscar at the encouragement of Tracey and her friend Jessie. After serving his sentence for this crime, Jason’s anger and hatred still hasn’t subsided—he acquired white supremacist tattoos in prison, and he lashes out with racial slurs at his African American parole officer, Evan. However, when he runs into Chris after they’re both released, the two hug and seem to be on good (if complicated) terms despite the fact that Chris is black. Evan encourages both Jason and Chris to let go of their shame and move on, and they take an initial step to do so by returning to the bar to make peace with Stan and Oscar. Hot-headed and passionate yet troubled and disaffected, Jason’s character represents the tendency for economic strife to exacerbate already present anger and racial tension, as well as the life-altering consequences of succumbing to such animosity.

Jason Quotes in Sweat

The Sweat quotes below are all either spoken by Jason or refer to Jason. 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 1, Scene 3 Quotes

JASON: […] But seriously, man, why didn’t you tell me?

CHRIS: Cuz—

JASON: Shit, I just kinda thought we’d retire and open a franchise together. We’re a team, you can’t leave!!

CHRIS: Yeah, I can.

JASON: What about me?

CHRIS: What about you?

JASON: You coulda told me.

CHRIS: Dude, it’s just something I gotta do.

Related Characters: Jason (speaker), Chris (speaker), Stan, Tracey, Cynthia
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

CYNTHIA: […] You know after everything. I wanna say that…

(Cynthia fights back emotions.)

I’m sorry.

CHRIS: For what?

CYNTHIA: It’s just, I shoulda…

(Chris places his arms around Cynthia.)

CHRIS: C’mon. C’mon. I don't want this to be a big deal. Tell me about what’s been going on. You hear from the old gang? Tracey?

CYNTHIA: Fuck her. After what went down. We don’t really—

Related Characters: Cynthia (speaker), Chris (speaker), Tracey, Jason, Oscar
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 6 Quotes

JASON: […] Eleven dollars an hour? No thank you. They’ll work us down to nothing if we let ‘em. “Jacking ain’t for softies!” But they know they can always find somebody willing to get their hands sweaty. And they’re right. There will always be someone who’ll step in, unless we say NO!

STAN: Look. Olstead is a prick. If he was here I wouldn’t stop you. In fact I’d hold him down for you to give him a proper beating, but Oscar…he’s another story.

[…]

JASON: […] All I’m saying is that he needs to understand the price of that dinner he’s putting on his table.

STAN (Shouts): What the fuck do you want him to do? Huh? It ain’t his fault. Talk to Olstead, his cronies. Fucking Wall Street. Oscar ain’t getting rich off your misery.

Related Characters: Jason (speaker), Stan (speaker), Oscar, Tracey, Jessie
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 101-102
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

Jason Character Timeline in Sweat

The timeline below shows where the character Jason 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 fallen 778.68 points—the worst single-day decline in stock market history. In a parole office, Jason, who has a black eye and whose face is covered in white supremacist tattoos, sits... (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.... (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 biker punched Jason in... (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 up the... (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 Jason off the... (full context)
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...replies that he’s angry with himself. He pauses introspectively before admitting that he recently saw Jason. Chris was surprised by how different Jason looked—Chris had encountered the Aryan Brotherhood in prison... (full context)
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...though Reverend Duckett has encouraged Chris to forgive himself. He says that when he saw Jason crossing the street, he forgot everything he’d imagined saying to him. He felt his emotions... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...drops out of the Republican Primary after having invested $66 million into his own campaign. Jason and Chris stand at the bar, tipsy, while Oscar works and listens in the background.... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Jason estimates that he can afford the bike after another month and a half of saving,... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Stan reluctantly agrees with Jason—it’s unwise to walk away from Olstead’s given how high the pay is and how in-demand... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...about the loud machines and reasoning that their jobs could easily be automated. He asks Jason if he has a backup plan, but Jason is set on retiring from the plant... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 6
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...to anyone else in the office part of the plant before now. Suddenly, Chris and Jason burst into the bar, immediately infecting the room with energy. They wish Jessie a happy... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...to her bottom. Jessie recalls how she started at the plant when she was 18 (Jason bets that she was hot back then, and Stan confirms that she was). Jessie only... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...something Cynthia isn’t telling them and if there are going to be layoffs, which alarms Jason and Chris. Cynthia hesitates to answer. She admits that there’s been talk of cutting overhead,... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 7
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...recent increase in violent crime and 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... (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 advises them to take the small concessions... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...government-funded bank bailouts are approved; Berks County, Pennsylvania, experiences a 111-percent rise in power shutoffs. Jason has come to visit Tracey, and he’s disappointed that his mom isn’t happy to see... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...tells him they’re not in contact anymore “after what went down.” Chris then shares that Jason is out too, which angers Cynthia—she reflects that Jason is the one who got Chris... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...opportunities for minority employees. In the bar, Stan and Oscar look on as Tracey, Chris, Jason, and Jessie yell at Cynthia, demanding to know what’s going on. Cynthia pleads with them... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...fight for significant concessions. Tracey says that they’re not afraid to strike in response, and Jason and Chris agree. Cynthia says that long-time employees are at risk of being fired because... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Jason and Chris try to reassure the others that the union will fight for them, but... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...that she’d sooner burn the factory down than allow Olstead’s to take away her livelihood. Jason and Chris back her up. Cynthia says that now that they know what’s coming, they... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...the Summer Olympics; three Mexican migrant farmworkers in Reading are killed in a car accident. Jason and Chris stumble into the bar, where Brucie is slumped over at a table, looking... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...says that this memory inspires him to be remain strong on the line; he and Jason are adamant that Olstead’s won’t break them. But Brucie remains skeptical: he tells Chris that... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...Tracey warns Oscar to see what happens if he talks to her that way when Jason is around. Oscar replies that he doesn’t have a problem with her and that the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...polls leading up to Election Day; Reading proposes an increase on income tax. Chris and Jason burst into the bar, where a drunk Jessie is sitting at a table. Chris and... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Jason asks Stan what he thinks, and Stan replies that maybe it’s time for Jason to... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...talking about all this; he suggests they get drunk, smoke a blunt, and relax, which Jason is all for. Stan asks about Chris’s girlfriend, but Chris says that he broke up... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Just then, Tracey emerges from the bathroom and asks Jason to buy her a drink. Chris offers to pay instead, and Jessie rouses and asks... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Chris and Stan try to calm Jason down, reasoning that the situation at Olstead’s isn’t Oscar’s fault—he’s only trying to make a... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Despite Chris’s pleas to let Oscar pass, Jason won’t back down—he doesn’t know why, but he can’t let Oscar walk out of the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 7
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...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 at Jason anymore—forgiveness is the... (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 Chris meet up to talk. Jason hasn’t thought about the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 8
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...a table. Oscar is standing behind the counter. Oscar says he heard that Chris and Jason got out, and he pours Jason a beer. Chris compliments the bar’s new look, and... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Just as Chris is about to say something, Jason walks in. Oscar grows nervous and asks what’s going on. Jason panics and turns to... (full context)