Act II Summary

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On their leave, the other soldiers visit a prostitute, Rowena. Wykowski spends half an hour with her. Selridge is only with her for a minute or so. Carney decides to stay faithful to his girlfriend. A nervous Eugene chats with her and then goes on to lose his virginity to her.

Meanwhile, the other privates have returned to the barracks, where they have discovered Eugene's journal and are reading it aloud. They learn Eugene's private thoughts about them—that Carney is not to be trusted, that Selridge calls out his mother's name in his sleep, and that Wykowski is "pure animal but will likely win a Medal of Honor.’’ When Eugene returns, they do not tell him they have his notebook, but he quickly realizes that it is missing. Wykowski begins reading from the journal. Eventually, the notebook comes to Arnold, whom Eugene begs not to read it. Arnold does, however, and discovers that although Eugene has a high regard for Arnold, he believes he is gay, and that makes him uncomfortable.

In the next scene, Toomey comes into the barracks in the middle of the night and wakes everyone up. He reports that two soldiers were caught in a sexual act in the latrine, but that one escaped through the window. Toomey wants the guilty party to step forward. When no one does, he suspends everyone's base privileges and weekend leave. The soldiers all believe that the other man was Arnold, and for the first time, Eugene learns the power of the written word. The next morning, however, Toomey announces that he has learned the other man's name, James Hennesey. The private faces up to five years in army prison.

Soon thereafter, Eugene goes on his quest to find a girl to fall in love with. At a USO dance, he meets Daisy and falls for her. She attends a local Catholic school. Eugene declares his intention of writing her.
Meanwhile, at the camp, Toomey is getting drunk, because he is being sent to the Veterans Hospital the next day. He calls for Arnold and tells him he would like to turn him into a disciplined soldier. To do so, Toomey holds a loaded gun on Arnold and forces Arnold to take it from him. Then Toomey has Arnold call in the platoon to charge Toomey before witnesses with threatening the life of an enlisted man. Toomey seems determined that Arnold will turn him in, but accepts Arnold's offer of dropping the charges in exchange for Toomey's completing two hundred push-ups.

The next day, a man whom Eugene refers to as sane, logical, and decent replaces Toomey. Eugene continues corresponding and visiting with Daisy. On their last date, before he ships out overseas, he tells her that he loves her and kisses her for the first time. As the play ends, the soldiers are again aboard a train, and they are talking about Hennesey, who only got three months in jail and then will be dishonorably discharged. At the conclusion of the play, Eugene shares the fates of his bunkmates with the audience: Selridge became a sergeant and trained new recruits at Biloxi; Wykowski lost a leg in battle but was cited for outstanding courage; after six months of enemy attack, Carney was hospitalized for severe depression; Arnold was listed as missing in action; and Daisy married a Jewish doctor. As for Eugene, he hurt his back on his first day in England and served out the war as a reporter for the army publication Stars and Stripes.

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Act I Summary