Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

by: Tennessee Williams

Act II: Part three

Summary

Daddy makes the prostrate Brick a deal: he will give him a drink if he explains his drinking. "DISGUST!" Brick exclaims. Daddy will not budge until Brick tells him with what. "Mendacity," Brick replies. The children scream for Daddy, and Gooper appears, and Daddy orders them out.

Snatching back his drink, Daddy insists that Brick elaborate, asking what he knows about mendacity. He could write a book about it, about his marriage, his pretending to love Gooper, Mae, and their "screechers," church, business clubs, and so on. There is nothing else to live with but mendacity. Brick rejoins that he can live with liquor.

Daddy continues and says that when he thought he was dying, he could not decide between leaving the place to Gooper and Mae or subsidizing Brick's rot. Brick replies that he doesn't care, and moves toward the gallery. Daddy commands him to stop and says that there has always been something left unspoken between them. Though they have never talked, they have never lied to each other, and they must talk now.

Daddy asks if it has always been liquor alone that killed Brick's disgust. Evasively Brick replies that believing once did. He quit sportscasting because he could not stand being washed-up, and time outran him.

Daddy knows that Brick is passing the buck onto time and disgust and mendacity, and that he started drinking when Skipper died. Brick starts, his calm broken, and asks what Daddy is suggesting. Daddy attempts to calm his son; Gooper and Mae told him there was something abnormal in their friendship. Daddy explains that he himself "knocked around" in his time in hobo jungles and flophouses.

Brick indignantly asks if he thinks he is a queer. He asks if that was why Daddy put him in the former plantation owners', Straw and Ochello, room. Reverend Tooker appears looking for the bathroom and Daddy orders him out. He tells Brick he understands and that Ochello stopped eating when Straw died just like Brick took to drinking after Skipper. Brick explodes: "YOU THINK SO, TOO? You think me an'Skipper did, did, did!—sodomy!—together?" Brick pitches over, and Daddy helps him up with concern.