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American Dream

Edward Albee


Part four

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Part four

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Part four

Part four


Mommy appeals to Daddy to have Grandma taken away. The apartment has become over-crowded with her enema bottles, Pekinese, the boxes, and everything else. Mrs. Barker remarks that she never heard of enema bottles. Grandma replies that Mommy means enema bags. She cannot help her ignorance; she comes from bad stock. Indeed, when she was born, she had a head shaped like a banana.

Mommy accuses Grandma of a capacity to just say anything. The other night she called Daddy a hedgehog—she probably picked up the word from television. She commands Daddy to shake her television's tubes loose. Daddy asks that she not mention tubes to him. Daddy has tubes now where he once had tracts. Grandma announces that she knows why Mrs. Barker has come to visit. Mrs. Barker begs her to give up the secret, but Mommy declares that a revelation would not be fair.

Mrs. Barker remains puzzled: she is such a busy girl with many committees and commitments. Mommy and Daddy mock her: they have not invited her to offer her help. If she need help, she could apply for a number of fellowships. Speaking as a representative of the Ladies' Auxiliary Air Raid Committee, Mrs. Barker asks how the family feels about air raids. Mommy and Daddy reply that they are hostile.

When Mrs. Barker comments on the surfeit of hostility in the world, Grandma rejoins that a Department of Agriculture study reveals an excess of old people as well. Mommy calls her a liar, commanding Daddy to break her television. He rises; Mommy cautions him against stepping on Grandma's blind Pekinese. Once he leaves, she sarcastically muses on her good fortune in marriage: she could have had a husband who was poor, argumentative, or consigned to a wheel chair.

Apparently recalling Mrs. Barker's invalid husband, Mommy recoils in horror, Mrs. Barker forces a smile and tells her to not think about it. Mommy pauses and announces that she has forgotten her faux pas. As she invites her guest to some girl talk, Mrs. Barker replies that she is not sure that she would not care for some water. Mommy orders Grandma to the kitchen; having quit, Grandma refuses. Moreover, she has hidden everything. Mrs. Barker declares herself in a near-faint, and Mommy goes for water herself.

Mrs. Barker relates her disorientation to Grandma and implores her to give up the secret of her visit. Grandma relishes in being implored and asks her to beg again. After some resistance, Mrs. Barker beseeches her anew.

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