The American Dream is a play in one scene, set in a living room with two armchairs, a sofa, and a door leading to the outside. Mommy and Daddy are seated, awaiting the arrival of visitors. Daddy complains about the apartment, about how hard it is to get anything fixed, and he remembers how easy it was to move in, when all that was required was his money for the rent and a security deposit. He feels taken advantage of and somehow fooled. Similarly, Mommy is vexed about a hat she has bought. It seemed like a perfectly lovely beige hat until she ran into the chairman of her women’s club, who praised her wheat-colored hat. Irritated to think she had been duped into buying the wrong-colored hat, Mommy returned to the store (excusing her mistake by blaming its artificial light) and complained until they gave her what she takes to be a beige-colored hat. “I would imagine it was the same hat they tried to sell you before,” Daddy observes. Mommy agrees, but somehow she still feels she has gotten satisfaction from the incident.
The expected arrival of visitors has something to do with Mommy’s and Daddy’s feelings about Grandma. She is getting old and feeble. However, when Grandma enters she seems sharp-minded, if somewhat mysterious about the boxes she has packed and dropped around Daddy’s armchair. She has a rather sarcastic tongue and a down-to-earth quality that appears to be missing in Mommy’s and Daddy’s speeches. Grandma is aware that she is aging and that Mommy and Daddy want to get rid of her.
What Mommy and Daddy seem most interested in is preserving their sense of comfort and convenience. They turn querulous and impatient when the visitors do not arrive on time. Grandma assumes they are waiting for the “van people” who will take her away. When the doorbell rings, Mommy and Daddy go through a hurried dialogue, with Daddy doubting whether or not he has done the right thing. Mommy assures him he has and puts particular emphasis on how “masculine and decisive” his behavior has been.
Making a big point about opening the door, Daddy welcomes Mrs. Barker into the room. Neither he nor Mommy seems to know her name, although they assume she represents the visitors who were supposed to arrive. As in previous discussions, much of what Mommy and Daddy have to say contradicts their earlier statements—in this case Daddy mentions that he knew the...
(The entire section is 981 words.)