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American Dream

Edward Albee

Part one

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols

Part one, page 2

page 1 of 3

Note: The American Dream is a play in one, uninterrupted scene.

Summary

Mommy and Daddy sit in armchairs on either side of their living room, facing each other diagonally out toward the audience. They complain that they, that is, the visitors they expect, are late. Certainly they were quick to get them to sign the lease, but now it is impossible to get them to fix anything. People can get away with anything these days.

Mommy recounts her purchase of a hat the day before, chastising Daddy for his inattentive listening. She was quite happy with her new beige hat until meeting the chairwoman of her woman's club, a dreadful woman who insisted her hat was wheat. Mommy returned to the store and made a scene until given a new beige hat, which looked wheat in the store but became beige outside. Daddy remarks that it was probably the same hat and Mommy confirms his guess with a laugh. In any case, she got satisfaction.

Daddy complains that he has been trying to get the toilet fixed for two weeks, primarily for Grandma's sake. Now that it does not work, it makes her feel feeble-headed. They complain about their lateness anew. Grandma enters with a load of neatly wrapped boxes. She dumps them around Daddy's feet and complains that he should get the john fixed.

When Daddy replies that they can hear Grandma whimpering away for hours when she goes to the bathroom, Grandma and Mommy firmly reproach him. Grandma laments that when you age, people start talking to you that way. Daddy apologizes. Grandma observes that people begins sorry gives you a sense of dignity. If you do not have a sense of dignity, civilization is doomed.

Mommy and Daddy rebuke Grandma for reading Mommy's book club selections again. Grandma retorts that the old have to do something. The old cannot talk with anyone because they snap at them. They go deaf to avoid people talking to them in that way; ultimately, the way people talk to them causes their death. Grandma exits to fetch the rest of the boxes.

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