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Christine explains that Lavinia believes she has taken up with the illegitimate son of Marie Brantôme and murdered Ezra. When she mentions Brantôme's son, Orin frightening becomes like his father for a moment and threatens his murder. "Except for that other," Orin dedicates himself to his mother wholeheartedly, even if she has done wrong.

Orin sits at Christine's feet and takes her hand. He recounts his wonderful dreams about her, dreams inspired by Melville's tales of the South Sea Islands. The Islands represented all the war was not: peace, warmth, and security, or simply Christine herself. Orin fondly caresses his mother's hair, recalling how, to his father's displeasure, he would brush it as a child. Christine shudders.

Lavinia reappears and coldly calls Orin anew. Annoyed, Orin exits. Maniacally triumphant, Christine announces that she has won Orin to her side. She then collapses and implores Lavinia to leave Orin alone: he has become hard and cruel and would certainly kill Brant. Lavinia marches out silently. Christine resolves to warn Brant.


As the Chantyman will remark in the subsequent scene, the trilogy unfolds in a moment when all the fathers have died, the family and the nation's alike. At the same time, their deaths hardly diminish their authority. Indeed, it is quite the opposite. The effect of Ezra's portrait on the guilty household indicates how the father imposes his law all the more forcefully from the grave. For Orin, Father will never die: "He's the same and always will be—here—the same!" As noted above, Lavinia in particular assumes the mantle of paternal authority, adopting Ezra's rigid posture and martial bark.

Lavinia embodies her father to intervene into the incestuous relationship Orin attempts to resume with Christine. As their conversation makes clear, Orin is ready to eliminate his father, a father that always envied him, from their affair. Indeed, he is even willing to forgive his mother's act of patricide. Now that Christine is a widow, they can finally be together. His would-be fiancé Hazel has but served as a ploy in his attempts to seduce her.

Orin and Christine's relationship is created through pre-Oedipal terms, the imagined mother-child realm that pre-exists the institution of Oedipal desire. Thus Christine and her only "flesh and blood" child share a "secret world" with a telling password: "No Mannons allowed." Their password would bar the paternal name that, in ordering the appropriate relations of desire in the household, imposes the prohibition on incest.