Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 663
Amy hosts a group of her husband’s friends who are visiting for the weekend. She is the only woman in the house, but Frank’s homosexual half brother, Freddy Fox, is her confidante and likes to help her in the kitchen. Freddy is already high on marijuana, however, and begins to flick ashes into the sauce that Amy is making. In the next room, her husband Frank, who does the books for Tucker’s art gallery in Soho, listens to jazz and rock music and to Tucker’s gossipy stories about artists and performers. Tucker seems to have picked up most of his stories in gay bars in Greenwich Village; Freddy suggests to Amy that there is a homosexual motive in Tucker’s choice of artists to show in his gallery. Much to his annoyance, Freddy himself becomes a topic of conversation; he has failed to finish college and now drifts from one anonymous sexual relationship to another. After dinner, Amy catches Freddy up on a secret that they share, namely that she knows that Frank is having an affair with a woman named Natalie. When Amy’s young son Mark, who is on an overnight visit with a neighboring child, wants to come home, Amy senses that her child’s anxiety is a reaction to Frank’s affair, which has made him cold and unavailable.
While Amy washes the dinner dishes, J. D., who was once Frank’s college adviser, appears at the kitchen window wearing a goat mask, frightening Amy into dropping a glass and cutting herself. J. D., who has lost his way, found the mask in a Goodwill bin. His late arrival for dinner adds to the offbeat and disorderly atmosphere. Having abandoned teaching in despair after his wife and son were killed in an automobile accident, J. D. is constantly on the move; he plans to fly to Paris the next day. While J. D. helps Amy treat her badly cut finger, Amy’s lover, Johnny, telephones. J. D.—who introduced them—is aware of the affair, but Amy is worried that her husband will overhear, so she pretends that Johnny is someone else. Johnny, who is also cheating on his spouse, pretends to be calling to check the weather in Key West. The brief conversation with Johnny causes Amy’s sense of disorientation to grow. She begins to feel she is out of touch with the true identities of the people around her. Beneath the surface charm and insouciance of her husband’s friends, she begins to see them as vulnerable, lost boys. Although J. D. appears to be off on a jaunt to Paris, Amy knows that his life is really on hold; she sees that Freddy’s use of marijuana is less recreational than desperate; and she knows that Tucker is a needy and lonely man. In spite of these insights, Amy does not feel close to these men—she feels as if they are merely photographs of people, rather than people themselves; her life feels unreal to her.
Before they retire for the night, Frank says something about storms in Key West that leaves Amy unclear as to how much he knows about her relationship with Johnny. Unable to sleep, she asks Frank to make some kind of decision about their future together. Is he staying or going? Frank tells Amy that she should not blame herself for what has gone wrong, and that although she is surrounded by men, she does not really understand them. Men, he says, are like little boys who think that they are going to the stars. Like the cartoon characters Spider Man, Buck Rogers, or Superman, men, he says, are always psychologically up in the sky, looking down on earth. In a very real sense, he tells her, “I’m already gone.” He is telling her that he will never take his place in her household as an adult male; even worse, he has abandoned her emotionally.
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