Sweat

by

Lynn Nottage

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Stan Character Analysis

Stan is a white man of German descent in his fifties. In 2000, he’s the bartender at the bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, where most of the play takes place. Stan became the bartender after losing part of his leg in an accident at Olstead’s Steel Tubing mill, where he worked (like previous generations of his family did) for 28 years. Now, Stan serves as a beloved friend, confidant, and wise sage for his regular customers—including the play’s other main characters, Chris, Jason, Tracey, Cynthia, Brucie, and Jessie. Stan is also the only one who’s friendly to Oscar, the bar’s Colombian American busboy. Stan is perhaps the most cynical of the play’s characters: he distrusts white-collar management and career politicians, and he declares that it’s “not a good philosophy to resist knowledge” or to blindly trust authority figures. But unlike most of the play’s other characters, who hold staunch, polarized beliefs about personal and social issues, Stan seeks to understand and empathize with everyone who sits across the bar from him and confides in him about their problems. Sadly, Stan’s concern for others has life-altering consequences for him: when he tries to intervene in a fight between Chris, Jason, and Oscar, Jason inadvertently hits Stan with a baseball bat. This causes Stan to fall and hit his head on the bar, sustaining a traumatic brain injury that permanently hinders his speech, hearing, and movement. Eight years later, Stan has become the busboy at bar, while Oscar is the new manager and weekend bartender. Stan’s tragic fate is symbolic of how economic strife and racial animosity (the reasons behind why Chris and Jason attacked Oscar) can radiate outward to affect innocent people.

Stan Quotes in Sweat

The Sweat quotes below are all either spoken by Stan or refer to Stan. 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:

STAN: Says he got wind that they were gonna cut back his line at the plant. Couldn’t handle the stress.

CYNTHIA: That rumor’s been flying around for months. Nobody’s going anywhere.

STAN: Okay, you keep telling yourself that, but you saw what happened over at Clemmons Technologies. No one saw that coming. Right? You could wake up tomorrow and all your jobs are in Mexico, whatever, it’s this NAFTA bullshit—

Related Characters: Stan (speaker), Cynthia (speaker), Freddy Brunner, Tracey
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 19-20
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 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 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:
Act 2, Scene 5 Quotes

OSCAR: […] I keep asking for some good fortune. That’s it. A little bit of money. That’s it. My father, he swept up the floor in a factory like Olstead’s—those fuckas wouldn’t even give him a union card. But he woke up every morning at four A.M. because he wanted a job in the steel factory, it was the American way, so he swept fucking floors thinking, “One day they’ll let me in.” I know how he feels, people come in here every day. They brush by me without seeing me. No: “Hello, Oscar.” If they don’t see me, I don’t need to see them.

Related Characters: Oscar (speaker), Stan
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 92
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

Stan Character Timeline in Sweat

The timeline below shows where the character Stan 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
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...friends Cynthia and Tracey, both middle-aged women, are drunkenly dancing with each other. The bartender, Stan, smiles as he watches on. Meanwhile, a woman named Jessie has passed out, face down,... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Cynthia and Tracey tease Stan as they dance seductively, prodding him to join them. Stan resists, and the song ends,... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Stan offers Tracey another drink and smiles at her seductively, but she lightheartedly rejects his advances... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Stan comments on the successful night—lots of people turned out for Tracey’s birthday party. Stan was... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Changing the subject, Stan asks if the women heard about Freddy Brunner—this morning’s paper reported that he burned his... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Tracey diverts, wondering aloud if it’s illegal to burn your own house down. Stan thinks it’s legal with a permit, and Cynthia sarcastically says that she should set fire... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Stan redirects the conversation, recalling that Freddy was the one who shut down the mill when... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...looking for reasons to fire people since their supervisor is being promoted and transferred. To Stan and Tracey’s surprise, Cynthia reveals that she’s thinking of applying for the open position since... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...them,” she says. “Not us.” No one was ever promoted straight off the floor during Stan’s 28 years at the mill, either. Still, Cynthia thinks she may as well apply, and... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...the bar, tipsy, while Oscar works and listens in the background. Jason shows Chris and Stan a photo of the Harley motorcycle he’s thinking about buying, brushing off Stan’s concerns about... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...Chris mention school, but Chris reveals that he’s been accepted to Albright College’s teaching program. Stan congratulates Chris, but Jason mocks him, teasing that he won’t last as a teacher and... (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... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...this is just something he has to do, and Jason begrudgingly accepts this before asking Stan to pour Chris a shot to shut him up. (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...bar, where the Republican debate between Keyes, McCain, and Bush is playing in the background.  Stan asks Brucie who he favors, but Brucie thinks it doesn’t matter because “they’ll all shit... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...was 18, and now the company expects them to be “wage slaves” for a lifetime. Stan asks if the mill has brought in temporary workers, and Brucie says they’re bringing in... (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... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 6
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...Reading fires several employees as the city faces a $10 million deficit. At the bar, Stan prepares a gimlet for Jessie, who’s eyeing a birthday cake on the counter. Oscar plays... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...stuck in the middle between Tracey and Cynthia; she gives up on waiting and asks Stan to get a knife for the cake. Jessie blows out the candles, and Stan affectionately... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Stan comments that it must feel great to be a manager after so many years on... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...the plant when she was 18 (Jason bets that she was hot back then, and Stan confirms that she was). Jessie only planned on working long enough to save the money... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...lunches. Several large U.S. corporations develop more leadership opportunities for minority employees. In the bar, Stan and Oscar look on as Tracey, Chris, Jason, and Jessie yell at Cynthia, demanding to... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...campaign trail across the Midwest. Cynthia, sitting alone at a table in the bar, tells Stan she’d rather be on a cruise on the Panama Canal. Stan replies that that’s a... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...the money. She’d thought that the floor workers would take the deal they were offered. Stan reminds her that it’s their friends who are locked out—many people in town wouldn’t even... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Sensing how distraught Cynthia is, Stan reassures her that it’s not her fault—many of Stan’s customers are in Cynthia’s position as... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...not to let the lockout get to him, and Brucie reassures Chris that he’s okay. Stan pours Chris a beer, and Brucie asks Chris about Olstead’s and about college. The lockout... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...$350 Play Station 2. At the bar, Jessie is slumped over at a table while Stan checks inventory. When Oscar enters, Stan tells him he crossed a line and asks when... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Stan offers to ask Howard about giving Oscar a raise, but Oscar tells him that Olstead’s... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...to the back, Tracey walks into the bar. She orders a double vodka and updates Stan on the lockout: the union is offering people money to go back to school, but... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...Tracey. Tracey is immediately hostile, hurling racial slurs at Oscar. She charges at Oscar, but Stan holds her back. Oscar laughs, asking Tracey what she’s going to do. Stan orders him... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...drunk Jessie is sitting at a table. Chris and Jason are riled up, and when Stan asks what’s going on, they tell him that there was a fight between “the scabs”... (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 move on... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...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 with her because she... (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... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...but he can’t let Oscar walk out of the bar. Jason shoves Oscar and pushes Stan to the ground when he tries to intervene. Oscar goes to help Stan, but Jason... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 8
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...on. Jason panics and turns to leave, but Chris tells him to stay. Just then, Stan—now severely disabled due to his traumatic brain injury—enters. Chris acknowledges him, but Oscar tells him... (full context)