Scenes 7–9 Summary

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Last Updated on August 7, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1127

Scene 7: My Song in the Street

As Scene 7 opens, Hester and her children play freeze tag outside. Hester stops playing after gazing up at the sky, chastising her children for bothering her. She complains of feeling tired as she looks skyward. 

Bully and Trouble show each other their private parts and ask Jabber and Beauty to participate in their investigations; Jabber warns Trouble not to touch himself or else his penis will fall off “in the street like a dead worm.” Jabber claims that he will never use his penis when he grows up, even when he gets married, whereas Trouble promises the opposite. Bully and Trouble argue about marriage and sex until Hester threatens them and raises her hand to show she is serious. Bully cries, and the children “huddle together in a knot.” Hester sends all of the children to bed as Beauty protests.

As the children run away from Hester, she looks at the sky and talks to herself about “Gods hand” emerging from the sky. The Doctor appears to tell Hester that her hysterectomy has been scheduled for the following day while her older children are at school. He tells her what to expect from the operation and that her youngest child will be looked after.

Chilli appears after the Doctor leaves Hester. She is surprised to see Chilli; she cannot speak for a few moments, so Chilli speaks for her. When Hester is able to speak, she tells him that she saw him recently when she was with Welfare. She did not run after him because by doing so, she would have outed him as one of her children’s fathers. Chilli is surprised to learn that she has “mens,” and he praises Hester for keeping his identity a secret from Welfare. He tells Hester that he changed his name and that his previous self no longer exists, but Hester reminds him of his son, Jabber. 

Chilli changes the subject to his gold pocket watch and checks the time, talking about his obsession with his watch. Hester looks at the sky, and Chilli tells her to look at him, admitting that when they first knew each other, he “was a shit.” Hester excuses Chilli’s behavior, saying they were young when they met. When she mentions Jabber again, Chilli tells her that he is not ready to talk about the boy. Chilli tells Hester that he is “looking for a wife,” and he brings out a white wedding dress for her to put on. Hester remarks on the cleanliness of the fabric and calls Jabber to meet his father, but Chilli again tells Hester that he is not ready. 

Chilli reminisces about their favorite song, and he sings to Hester and invites her to dance. After they dance, Chilli proposes to Hester and lays out the terms of their future marriage: he must be “in charge” and he must be able to “retain my rights to my manhood.” Hester agrees, and he gives her an engagement ring. Bully, Trouble, Beauty, and Baby appear and greet Hester, and when Chilli asks who they are, Hester tells him that they are her neighbor’s children. Hester asks Bully about Jabber’s whereabouts, and when Chilli speaks, Trouble responds to him belligerently. Though Bully repeats that they, the children, are “the neighbors kids,” Chilli tells Hester that he cannot be in a relationship with her after all; he had imagined her alone with his child, “triumphant against everything,” but the reality of Hester’s life does not work for him. Chilli takes back the engagement ring and the wedding dress and...

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leaves, looking at his pocket watch.

Chilli delivers a confession to the audience, describing his relationship with Hester when they were young. According to Chilli, “we didnt think that nothing we could do would hurt us,” and they used to go to a nearby car lot to make love. He ends his confession by asserting that “times change.”

Scene 8: The Hand of Fate

Scene 8 takes place on a Sunday night. Hester appears at the back entrance of Reverend D.’s new church with her children, intending to ask the reverend for five dollars a week. If he denies her the money, she plans to go to Welfare to reveal his identity. Hester gives herself a pep talk by telling herself that the reverend “still wants me.” Jabber appears and tags Hester on the arm, and Hester tells him to go to sleep with the other children. Reverend D. appears holding “a large neon cross,” and Hester reminds him that it is Sunday. He tells her that he took in no money when he passed around a collection plate that morning. He promises her that his lawyer will deliver a hundred dollars to her the following day.

When Reverend D. turns away from Hester, she clutches at him, asking him why his feelings for her have changed. He resists her, and she tries to hit him with a club. The reverend injures Hester’s hand, and she falls down. Jabber watches the exchange, and he tries to speak to Hester when Reverend D. calls her a “Common Slut” and leaves her to enter his church. Jabber irritates Hester by talking to her repetitively about the word “slut,” which appeared on the wall under the bridge at the start of the play. As he says the word over and over, Hester repeatedly tells him to “shut up.” When Jabber says the word one last time, he apologizes; after a brief pause, Hester clubs Jabber over the head, killing him and waking Bully, Trouble, and Beauty. She beats his body as the children watch. Finally, she cradles Jabber’s body and writes the letter “A” on the ground with his blood.

Hester delivers a confession to the audience, admitting that having her children was a mistake. After touching the pool of Jabber’s blood, she contradicts herself, stating that she should have had “an army” of children. As Hester sits alone on the stage, “the prison bars come down.”

Scene 9: The Prison Door

Scene 9 takes place at the door of Hester’s prison cell. A chorus of figures circle around Hester, calling her an “ANIMAL” and mocking her illiteracy and unmarried status. They spit at Hester as they criticize her poverty and announce that “SHES GOT TO PAY FOR IT.” Welfare stands by with the Doctor, Chilli, and Amiga Gringa. Welfare expresses concern about Hester now that Hester has had her operation, and the Doctor explains that she is now sterile. Hester’s hands are covered in blood, and “she looks up with outstretched arms,” gesturing towards the sky and repeating three times to herself and to the audience that the “big hand coming down on me.”


Scenes 5–6 Summary