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Whoever you are—I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
A few weeks later, Stella cries while packing Blanche’s belongings. Blanche is taking a bath. Stanley and his buddies are playing poker in the kitchen, which the stage directions describe as having the same ghastly atmosphere as on the poker night when Stanley beat Stella. Eunice comes downstairs and enters the apartment. Stanley boasts about his own ability to survive and win out against others thanks to his spectacular confidence, and Mitch stammers incoherently in angry disbelief.
Eunice calls the men callous and goes over to Stella to see how the packing is going. Stella asks how her baby is, and Eunice says the baby is asleep. Eunice asks about Blanche, and Stella says they have arranged for Blanche to spend some time resting in the country, but Blanche thinks she is going to travel with Shep Huntleigh. Blanche emerges from the bathroom briefly, asking Stella to tell any callers that she’ll phone them back shortly. She requests that Stella find her yellow silk suit and its accessories, then returns to the bathroom. Stella tells Eunice that she isn’t certain she did the right thing, but that there is no way she could believe Blanche’s story about the rape and continue to live with Stanley. Eunice comforts Stella, saying she had no choice but to doubt Blanche’s story and continue life as usual with Stanley.
Blanche opens the bathroom door hesitantly, checking to make sure that the men playing poker won’t be able to see her as she comes out. She emerges with a slightly unhinged vivacity to the strains of the Varsouviana polka. Stella and Eunice behave in a gentle, accommodating manner. Blanche asks if Shep Huntleigh has called, and Stella answers, “[N]ot yet.”
At the poker table, the sound of Blanche’s voice sends Mitch into a daydream, until Stanley snaps him out of it. The sound of Stanley’s voice from the kitchen stuns Blanche. She remains still for a few moments, mouthing Stanley’s name, then with a rising hysteria demands to know what is going on. The women quiet and soothe her, and the men restrain Stanley from interfering. Blanche is appeased for the moment, but frantically anxious to leave. The other women convince her to wait. They offer her grapes, and she worries about whether they have been washed. Blanche starts to leave, but the women detain her again. They manage to hold her in the bedroom by playing on her fear of walking in front of the men at the poker table, saying she should wait until the game is over. Blanche lapses into a reverie about her upcoming vacation, imagining that she will die at sea from eating a dirty grape with a handsome young ship’s doctor at her side.
The doorbell rings, and Blanche waits tensely, hoping that the caller is Shep Huntleigh, her savior. In reality, a doctor and nurse are at the door. Eunice returns and announces that someone is calling for Blanche, saying she thinks it might be Shep. Blanche becomes tense, and the Varsouviana begins again. When Eunice mentions that a lady accompanies Blanche’s caller, Blanche grows more nervous. She frets again about walking in front of the poker players, but Stella accompanies her. The poker players stand uncomfortably as Blanche passes, except for Mitch, who stares at the table. When Blanche steps out onto the porch and sees the doctor, not Shep Huntleigh, she retreats in fright to where Stella is standing, then slips back into the apartment.
Inside, Stanley steps up to block Blanche’s way to the bedroom. Blanche rushes around him, claiming she has forgotten something. The weird reflections and shadows reappear on the walls, and the Varsouviana music and jungle cries grow louder. The doctor sends the nurse in after Blanche. In stage whispers, Stanley advises the doctor to go in, and the doctor tells the nurse to grab Blanche. As the nurse speaks to Blanche, her voice echoes eerily. Blanche panics and asks to be left alone. Stanley says the only thing Blanche could have possibly forgotten is her paper lantern, which he tears from the lightbulb and hands to her. Blanche shrieks and tries to escape. The nurse holds Blanche, who struggles in her grasp.
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