Cate Kennedy

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Themes and Colors
Capitalism and Competition Theme Icon
Hopelessness and Apathy Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Sleepers, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Capitalism and Competition

The rise of capitalism in contemporary times has brought about rapid changes to the lives of many as it spreads to previously untouched economies. At the beginning of Cate Kennedy’s “Sleepers,” the story’s protagonist, Ray, is stuck in traffic because of a construction project that has thrown his otherwise slow and quiet town into turmoil. Many of the town’s residents are struggling with unemployment, so they are furious that the project was planned and…

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Hopelessness and Apathy

Throughout “Sleepers,” Ray is portrayed as lethargic and apathetic, watching lazily from the sidelines as he observes other characters take initiative to improve their lives. Although he is only employed part-time, Ray does not look for other work. He also acknowledges his poor health, recognizing that he should see a doctor and cut back on drinking, yet drinks to excess, anyway, to the point that he falls asleep in his truck. When he goes to…

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The characters in “Sleepers” are primarily defined in relation to their family, housing, and employment status. Kennedy introduces locals like Bernie, Ray’s coworker at the warehouse, and Frank, who has been unemployed for 14 months, both of whom are defined narrowly by their work. In their small, insular town, there is no need for longer descriptions to differentiate people—even last names are not necessary and do not appear in the story. Ray…

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