Cloud 9

Summary

Act II, Scene 2

Summary Act II, Scene 2

As tensions ease, Lin and Victoria realize that Tommy is missing. They begin calling for him, and Cathy returns. Cathy offers little help at first, but later spots Tommy in the bushes during their search for him. Lin convinces Cathy to come home, and they reconcile with a hug. Victoria, Lin and Cathy leave the park.

Edward and Gerry come into the park, arguing again about Gerry's lack of commitment to their relationship. Gerry suggests that Edward is faking his femininity, but Edward insists that he enjoys playing the feminine role in the relationship. Gerry breaks up with Edward and leaves. Victoria arrives, and, seeing her brother distraught, holds his hand to comfort him. Edward states that he would rather be a woman and says that he thinks he is a lesbian.

Analysis

In distinguishing the second act from the first, Churchill borrows a theatrical device from Bertolt Brecht: at certain points, the characters "alienate" themselves from the story of the play to address the audience with a monologue. Gerry's monologue in this scene allows the audience to see what makes Gerry tick. In relating the story of his sexual encounter on a train in graphic detail, Gerry defines himself as an unabashed homosexual, confident in his role as a sexual being. The monologue serves several structural purposes. First, it allows Churchill to add dimension to the characters without having to tie the new information into the present drama of the play. Second, the monologue is used as a transitional tool. In this case, Gerry's speech carries the play from a conversation between Gerry and Edward to scene with Martin, Victoria, Betty and Cathy. Third, the monologue gives the tempo of the play some variety. Gerry's speech is slower and more fluid than the short back-and-forth of the preceding dialogue. Theatrically, the alienation technique grants an audience the experience of having a character expose the underpinnings of the play. Gerry offers his view of the world of the play.

Scene two also offers a more thorough definition of Martin. Thematically, Martin represents a transition between the old and the new. As the only straight male in the second act, Martin might be viewed as a symbol of traditional values, but he insists that he is progressive, that he favors the empowerment of women, telling Victoria, "Whatever you want to do, I'll be delighted." However, Martin's rhetoric masks his actions. While he favors Victoria's liberty in theory, his long-winded lectures and constant talk of sex are in fact oppressive. Martin's claim that he strives only to give Victoria pleasure is a stark contrast to Clive's denial of Mrs. Saunders right to orgasm, but Martin might not be as far from Clive as one might think from a quick glance at the text. Martin goes on to say that Victoria's emotional instability "insults" him, implying his need to control Victoria in some way. He is "insulted" that she cannot be the modern woman he wishes her to be. Martin faces the difficult challenge of empowering Victoria while keeping some status for himself.

Betty, like her daughter, continues her struggle to define herself apart from Clive. Through Betty, Churchill argues that a woman's empowerment is not without negative consequences. As overbearing as Clive was, he did provide comfort and protection. He also allowed Betty to exist without confronting her shortcomings as a woman. Betty tells Lin that women "spoil things for themselves with their emotions." Churchill's feminism is not blind. She argues that any group of people has its problems and that achieving liberation will involve one accepting those problems in seeking an identity. In this scene, Betty acts hesitant to start the painful journey of becoming a woman, not just becoming a wife and mother.