Cate Kennedy

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The Road Worker Character Analysis

The road worker is the flagger Ray encounters at the beginning of the story, who is only described by his construction uniform of sunglasses, fluorescent vest, and hard hat. His face is expressionless, and his eyes are hidden behind the sunglasses as he waves Ray past, emphasizing that he is an anonymous, generic figure that symbolizes the expendable nature of labor in a capitalist economy where workers are interchangeable and identified only by their jobs. Having worked in the same position before, Ray understands how meaningless and generic the work is. He knows that it makes no difference whether a local like him is doing the job or this unknown laborer from elsewhere.

The Road Worker Quotes in Sleepers

The Sleepers quotes below are all either spoken by The Road Worker or refer to The Road Worker. 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:
Capitalism and Competition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribe edition of Sleepers published in 2012.
Sleepers Quotes

The road worker aimed his mirrored and shadowed gaze at Ray as he drove past and gave a wave that had been reduced to its bare minimum: a single, slow-motion finger lifted in acknowledgement that here was one man passing another man who was pretending to be doing a job of work, bored shitless and leaning on a one-word sign. Ray raised a finger off the wheel in response, glancing at the expressionless face and looking away again. Didn't know him.

Related Characters: Ray, The Road Worker
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Road Worker Character Timeline in Sleepers

The timeline below shows where the character The Road Worker appears in Sleepers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Hopelessness and Apathy Theme Icon
As he pulls up to a road worker directing traffic to a detour, Ray remembers waiting similarly at a construction site with his... (full context)
Capitalism and Competition Theme Icon
Hopelessness and Apathy Theme Icon late today” and the manager never supervises them. As Ray drives past an expressionless road worker wearing sunglasses, the two of them do the “bare minimum” of gestures to acknowledge each... (full context)