It is around 2:30 a.m. Steve, Pablo, Mitch, and Stanley are playing poker in the Kowalskis’ kitchen, which is bathed in a sinister green light. Their talk is heavy with testosterone and the effects of whiskey, several glasses of which litter the table. Stanley dominates the table with his tough talk, while Mitch, who frets about whether or not he should go home to his sick mother, shows himself to be the most sensitive and sober man at the table. After exchanging a few harsh words with Stanley, Mitch rises from the table to go to the bathroom.
Stella and Blanche return. Blanche insists on powdering her face at the door of the house in anticipation of the male company. Stella makes polite introductions, but the men show no interest in Blanche’s presence. When Stella asserts that it’s time to stop playing for the night, Stanley refuses her request, tells her to go upstairs to Eunice’s, and disrespectfully slaps her on the buttocks. Stella is shamed and joins Blanche, who is planning to take another bath, in the bedroom. Mitch emerges into the bedroom from the bathroom and is sheepish and awkward upon meeting Blanche, indicating that he is attracted to her. Once he has left the room, Blanche remarks that there is something “superior to the others” in Mitch. Stella agrees that Mitch is polite but claims that Stanley is the only one of them who will “get anywhere.”
Stella and Blanche continue their sisterly chat in the bedroom while the poker game continues. Stanley, drunk, hollers at them to be quiet. While Stella is busy in the bathroom, Blanche turns on the radio, further angering Stanley. The other men enjoy the music, but Stanley springs up and shuts off the radio. He and Blanche stare each other down. Mitch skips the next hand to go to the bathroom again. Waiting for Stella to finish in the bathroom, he and Blanche talk. Blanche is a little drunk and unabashedly flirtatious. They discuss Mitch’s sick mother, the sincerity of sick and sorrowful people, and the inscription on Mitch’s cigarette case. Blanche fibs that she is actually younger than Stella, and that she has come to New Orleans because Stella is ailing and needs her assistance. She asks Mitch to put a Chinese lantern she has bought over the naked lightbulb. As they talk Stanley grows increasingly annoyed at Mitch’s absence from the game.
Stella leaves the bathroom, and Blanche impulsively turns the radio back on and begins to dance, slyly engaging the clumsy Mitch and preventing his leaving to go to the bathroom. Stanley leaps up, rushes to the radio, and hurls it out the window. Stella yells at Stanley, and he advances violently toward her. He follows her as she runs offstage, and the stage directions call for sounds of him beating her. The other men pull him off. Stella cries out that she wants to get away, and Blanche scrambles to gather clothes and take Stella upstairs to Eunice’s apartment. Mitch condemns Stanley’s behavior to Blanche. Then the men attempt to revive the now limp and confused Stanley, but when they try to force him into the shower to sober him up, he fights them off. They grab their poker winnings and leave.
Stanley stumbles out of the bathroom, calling for Stella. He cries remorsefully and then telephones upstairs, but Eunice won’t let him speak to Stella. After calling again to no avail, he hurls the phone to the floor. Then, half-dressed, he stumbles out to the street and calls for his wife again and again: “STELL- LAHHHHH!” Eunice warns him to stop, but his bellowing cry continues. Finally, a disheveled Stella slips out of the apartment and down to where Stanley is. They stare at each other and then rush together with “animal moans.” He falls to his knees, tenderly caresses her face and belly, then lifts her up and carries her into their flat.
Blanche emerges from Eunice’s flat, frantically looking for Stella. She stops short at the entrance to the downstairs flat. Mitch returns and tells her not to worry because Stella and Stanley are crazy about each other. He offers her a cigarette. She thanks him for his kindness and waxes poetic while he quietly listens.