Lynn Nottage

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A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working (often by literally locking them out of company property), typically in response to labor union demands. Often thought of as the opposite of a strike, the goal of a lockout is generally to get employees to accept certain concessions, such as lower wages or reduced benefits. In Sweat, there is a lockout at Olstead’s Steel Tubing where Chris, Jason, Tracey, Cynthia, and Jessie work (as well as one at the textile mill where Brucie works), the fallout of which leads to financial hardship, disillusionment, and rage among the plant employees.

Lockout Quotes in Sweat

The Sweat quotes below are all either spoken by Lockout or refer to Lockout. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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:
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 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 3 Quotes

CYNTHIA: I’ve stood on that line, same line since I was nineteen. I’ve taken orders from idiots who were dangerous, or even worse, racist. But I stood on line, patiently waiting for a break. I don’t think you get it, but if I walk away, I’m giving up more than a job, I’m giving up all that time I spent standing on line waiting for one damn opportunity.

TRACEY: You want us to feel sorry for you?

CYNTHIA: …I didn’t expect you to understand, babe. You don’t know what it’s been like to walk in my shoes. I’ve absorbed a lotta shit over the years, but I worked hard to get off that floor. Call me selfish, I don’t care, call me whatever you need to call me, but remember, one of us has to be left standing to fight.

Related Characters: Cynthia (speaker), Tracey (speaker), Jessie
Related Symbols: The Bar
Page Number: 83
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:
Get the entire Sweat LitChart as a printable PDF.
Sweat PDF

Lockout Term Timeline in Sweat

The timeline below shows where the term Lockout 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
...drugs, and although Cynthia says she sympathizes because things have been tough since Brucie got locked out of his plant, she can’t have him around in his current state. She and Brucie... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...in on the conversation. After some small talk, Stan asks Brucie how long he’s been locked out of the textile mill, and Brucie replies 93 weeks. Brucie and the other employees didn’t... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 7
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Economic Strain and Race Relations Theme Icon
...first step; he advises them to take the small concessions they’re offered before there’s a lockout and temporary labor is brought in. This is the situation Brucie is in—he and the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...a 60-percent pay cut and concessions on their benefits to save jobs, and Olstead’s will lock them out if they don’t accept. At this, Tracey exclaims, “Fuck you! Fuck them!” and declares that... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...managerial job she always coveted, she’s been wracked with guilt over watching her friends be locked out . (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
Shame, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...her the promotion on purpose so that she’d have to take the heat of the lockout, and she regretfully admits that she needs the money. She’d thought that the floor workers... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...fault—many of Stan’s customers are in Cynthia’s position as other local plants institute layoffs and lockouts. He bitterly comments that politicians have no idea what’s going on in the world, which... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...reminds them that they could have taken the deal, but Tracey says she’d rather be locked out and dependent upon union handouts than give up everything she’s worked for. Cynthia replies that... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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. Stan pours Chris a beer,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
Relationships, Status, and Resentment Theme Icon
...some hours will eventually lead to a full-time job. Stan warns him to be careful—the locked-out floor workers are sure to be angry that Oscar is earning money while they’re out... (full context)
Working-Class Disillusionment Theme Icon
...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 Tracey has resigned... (full context)