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Setting/Plot-The setting of “The Boarding House” is the boarding house that Mrs. Mooney has opened as a means of support after separating from an alcoholic husband. Mrs. Mooney has made the decision to keep her daughter at home as a means of entertaining the boarders, and when Polly begins to develop a relationship with one of the young men, Mrs. Mooney doesn’t stop it; she monitors it very closely, cleverly waiting for just the right moment. She sees this as an opportunity for her daughter, as she hopes the successful Mr. Doran will want to salvage his career and good name by doing “right by Polly.” Obviously she wants the young man to marry Polly, but he is conflicted because he originally was attracted by Polly’s beauty and kindness, but he also has noticed her lack of class and poor language skills. He leaves Polly daydreaming as he goes to discuss their futures with Mrs. Mooney. There are two ways of looking at the situation in “The Boarding House.” One is a means of escape for Polly as a marriage to a successful wine salesman would be better than a life of servitude at the boarding house, but it is also a sad means of entrapment as both Polly and Mr. Doran would be trapped in a relationship that neither might have chosen otherwise.
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