Daddy asks why he quit and Brick answers that he does not know. Daddy reels a little from his cigar; the mantel clock chimes ten sweetly. His gestures tense and jerky, he asks Brick why it is "so damn hard" for people to talk.


Act II begins with the first meeting between Big Daddy and Brick of the play, a meeting quickly interrupted by Daddy's birthday festivities. Gooper, Mae, and Maggie's wrangling is thinly veiled at best; the grandchildren put on a burlesque of familial devotion; and Reverend Tooker tactlessly discusses death and memorial windows.

Daddy's coarse outburst disrupts the party chatter, moving rapidly to the primary action of Act II, the encounter of father and son. Believing that he has returned from the dead, Daddy rejects all the hypocritical, pandering crap about him and proceeds to set his son straight. Belligerently, Daddy interrogates Brick on his sex life and his drinking. He asks him why he will not sleep with Maggie.

As the interrogation progresses, the relationship between Brick's sexuality and his drinking will become clearer. In attempting to establish a certain intimacy with Brick, Daddy will call him to judgment and help him become his rightful heir. He will refuse Brick's attempts at flight, refuse to allow his repressions to keep things unspoken between them, and force Brick to recognize the desire he could not avow in his friendship with Skipper. What melodramatically impels this Act is the men's showdown over what remains inadmissible between them. The two men push progressively toward the inadmissible's revelation. Note here the use of the clock. Its chime marks a shift in the scene's rhythm, moving into the father-son dialogue that composes the rest of the act. As Maggie notes in Act I, Daddy is an old-fashioned "Mississippi redneck"—large, brash, and vulgar. His humor is decidedly grotesque, much to the amusement of Maggie. Maggie, as she muses in Act I, is genuinely fond of Daddy and the only other one present attuned to and amused by grotesquerie.

The primary butt of Daddy's jokes is Big Mama, who bears the brunt of his rage when she attempts to calm him. As he tells Mama, his colon has become spastic out of disgust from the lies and hypocrisy that define their life together. When Mama helpless laments that he has never believed she loved him, he can only murmur bitterly: "Wouldn't it be funny if that was true…"

Mama appears deep in denial, constantly insisting that Big Daddy does not mean what he says. Note how she almost willfully misapprehends Daddy's disgust with mendacity. At first glance, it appears that Daddy's remark calls Mama's love into question. Daddy, however, does not doubt Mama's almost embarrassingly dogged devotion. His disgust is with his own mendacity, the life he has spent with a woman he cannot stand.