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Willie calculatingly approaches Parritt, offering his legal services for the trial that most certainly awaits him. Parritt protests his innocence, once again primarily to Larry. Larry attempts to silence him, refusing to pass judgment. Asking for a drink, Larry superstitiously laughs that Death is certainly the Iceman Hickey has called forth.
Mosher and McGloin appear, pledging to return to their jobs. Like the others, they nearly brawl in the course of deriding each other's pipe dreams. A gaudy Cora enters to fetch Chuck. She invites the group to the wedding, but they remain sunk their own apprehensions. They leave hastily to avoid Hickey.
Hope and Jimmy then appear with Hickey on their heels. Both put forth a show of self-assurance but look like condemned men. Hickey chides them against postponing the day's events. One must kill the tomorrow dream to make peace with oneself. Hickey prods the rest of the group out of the saloon. Jimmy makes a last attempt at putting of his visit to the newspaper until tomorrow but to no avail. He tosses his drink at Hickey in futile fury and bursts out the door.
Hickey now fixes on Hope. Though Hope expresses misgivings about the cars outside and how his excursion might disgrace Bess's memory, Hickey remains relentless in disabusing him of his illusions. Hope storms out while Rocky watches on in excitement.
Hickey turns on the embittered Larry. Larry admits with self-loathing that his drinking and posture of detachment only conceal his fear of death. Parritt cheers Hickey on. Hickey again insists that the two men, Parritt and Larry, must settle with each other.
Rocky, who has been at the window, announces in disgust that Harry is coming back. Hope returns and pleadingly insists that an automobile almost ran him over. Only Larry will assent to his lie. Hope collapses within himself, feeling like a corpse. He turns to Hugo to offer him a drink and Hugo rouses himself and observes that Hope looks dead. He feels the same. Harry begins to drink.
Hickey is the personification of alcohol in The Iceman Cometh. If you are not well-versed in the traits of the disease of alcoholism, you will miss this plot device. It takes Hickey a long time to arrive (not until the 2nd Act), because the barflys are dying for a drink, and they are all too broke to afford to buy booze themselves, so the wait seems interminable. When Hickey arrives, he is fresh and clean, and full of promise of a better future. He promises freedom from failure and a complete change of mind so that ... Read more→
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