Act 2 Summary and Analysis
It has been several years since the Johnstones moved to Sixty Five Skelmersdale Lane. Mrs. Johnstone sings of her happier new life; she notes how the milkman appreciates her for paying her bills on time and considers her as beautiful as Marilyn Monroe. However, a montage belies her claim, showing a Judge “ticking off” Sammy for burning down his school building.
Both Edward and Mickey head to school for a new term, but separately. While Edward goes off to boarding school, Mickey takes the bus to the local secondary school with Linda. Sammy joins the two, and tries to cheat the bus conductor by paying him a “fourpenny scholar,” the fare for children fourteen and under. The conductor threatens to take him to the police station, after which Sammy jumps from the bus, the police on his heels. Linda warns Mickey that she will no longer be in love with him if he turns out like Sammy. In class, a distracted Mickey is unable to answer his teacher’s questions and is suspended for insubordination.
Meanwhile, Edward also gets into trouble at his school when he refuses to hand over to a heckling teacher the locket he wears around his neck. Suspended and sent back home, Edward is hesitant to show Mrs. Lyons what is inside the locket. Mrs. Lyons assumes it contains a picture of a girlfriend, but when she finally opens the locket she finds a photo of Mrs. Johnstone with Mickey, whom she mistakes for Edward. Edward explains to his shocked mother that the photo is that of his old friend, but he refuses to tell her how he obtained it.
On the road downhill from the Lyons Estate, Mickey runs into Edward. The two boys recognize each other almost immediately. Mickey shares with Edward that though he loves Linda, he is unable to express his feelings to her. Edward suggests they watch adult-themed movies at the Essoldo theater for guidance on wooing Linda. As the boys head to the Johnstone home on their way to the theater, they are spotted by Mrs. Lyons, who decides to follow them. The boys leave after meeting Mrs. Johnstone, and Mrs. Lyons steps in to confront the other woman. She accuses Mrs. Johnstone of stalking her family and offers her money to move away. When a furious Mrs. Johnstone refuses, Mrs. Lyons tries to attack her with a knife. Mrs. Johnstone wrenches the knife away from her hand and sends Mrs. Lyons, cursing and shrieking, out of her house. The narrator’s song described Mrs. Lyons as “the mad woman living on the hill.”
With Mrs. Lyons’s attempt to keep the boys apart thus thwarted, Mickey, Edward, and Linda become great friends. They spend more and more time in each other’s company as the years pass. Edward falls in love with Linda, who finds herself warming to his eloquence, which is in sharp contrast to Mickey’s taciturn behavior. On the eve of Edward’s departure to college, Mickey, who now works at a factory, finally confesses his love to Linda, leaving Edward heartbroken. Edward departs.
After Linda becomes pregnant, she and Mickey move in with Mrs. Johnstone until their wedding, which is scheduled in a month. However, the factory in which Mickey works, which turns out to be owned by Mr. Lyons, lays him off, because of the “shrinking pound, the global slump.”
Home for Christmas, Edward meets Mickey and urges him to join him for a party. An aggressive Mickey refuses, informing Edward about the loss of his job. Unable to comprehend Mickey’s predicament, Edward urges him to “live like a bohemian” and tries to hand him some money. Mickey throws away the money, telling Edward that their bond is irrevocably broken by class difference. After Edward learns that Mickey and Linda are married and expecting a child, he leaves.
Meanwhile, a desperate Mickey accompanies Sammy on an attempted robbery. After Sammy shoots a man, he and Mickey are arrested by the police. Mickey is eventually sentenced to seven years in prison, where he grows “chronically depressed” and addicted to antidepressants. Let off early...
(The entire section is 1,246 words.)