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American Dream

Edward Albee

Part six

Part five

Part six, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

The doorbell rings, and the Young Man enters. Grandma looks him over approvingly and asks if he is the van man. He is not. Grandma compliments his looks—she could go for him if she was 150 years younger. He should go into the movies. The unenthused Young Man concurs and muses flatly on his face: "clean-cut, Midwest farm boy type, almost insultingly good-looking in a typically American way". Grandma announces the boy as the American Dream.

Still off-stage, Mommy and Daddy ask who has rung; Grandma informs them the American Dream has arrived. The Young Man explains that he has come for work. He will do anything for money. Nervously keeping him at bay—it would look awful if they got too close—Grandma wonders if he can help with the household's dilemma. Daddy has much money; she has put some away herself as well. This year Grandma won $25000 in a baking contest under the pseudonym Uncle Henry (after all, she looks as much the old man as the old woman) and a store- bought cake. She dubbed the recipe Uncle Henry's Day-Old Cake.

Suddenly Grandma notes that the Young Man looks familiar. He replies that he is a type. She then asks why he says he would do anything for money. The Young Man replies that as someone who is incomplete, he must compensate—he can explain his lack to Grandma partially because she is so old.

The Young Man's mother died at his birth; he never knew his father. However, though without parents, the Man was not alone in his womb, having an identical twin with whom he shared an unfathomable kinship. They felt each other's breath, heartbeat, and hunger. Tragically, they were separated in their youth. In the passing years, the Young Man suffered losses: "A fall from grace a departure of innocence loss loss". He lost his heart and became unable to love. He lost his eyes and the ability to see with pity and affection. An agony in his groin left him unable to love anyone with his body. He has been "drained, torn asunder, disemboweled", left without emotions or feeling. He lets others love him. As he confesses: "I accept the syntax around me, for while I know I cannot relate…I know I must be related to.

"Oh, my child", murmurs Grandma in pity. She remarks that she was mistaken when she thought she knew him: she once knew someone very much like him or perhaps like who he once was. The Young Man warns her that what he said may not be true. After all, in his profession—Grandma hushes him. The Young Man bows his head in acquiescence. To be more precise, Grandma notes that this someone she knew was one who might have become very much like him might have turned out to be. She suspects the Young Man has found himself as job.

The Young Man asks about his duties, and Mrs. Barker calls from off-stage. Grandma has to go into "her act" now—the Young Man will have to play it by ear unless they get a chance to speak again.

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