Act II Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 366

The second act begins with a bridge party at the newlyweds' home, attended by Franklin, James's supervising teacher, and Mrs. Norman. Sarah delivers a splendid performance, suggesting that she has become integrated into the middle-class hearing world, but later tells James "I feel split down the middle, caught between two worlds." James also experiences this struggle to feel comfortable in both worlds because he becomes exhausted serving as Sarah's translator and finds it impossible to enjoy music because Sarah cannot share it with him.

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When Orin enlists Sarah's help in a campaign to charge the State School for the Deaf with discrimination for not hiring enough deaf teachers, the personal differences between James and Sarah become part of a larger political issue. Edna Klein, a lawyer brought in by Orin to help with the case against the school, illustrates the misconceptions and mistakes made by well-meaning people from the hearing community. Sarah begins to realize that Edna wants to speak before the commission "for all deaf people,'' and that James wants to speak for her. Sarah explains that everyone has always assumed that because she cannot hear, she is unable to understand and is incapable of speaking for herself. Her own identity as a separate individual has been ignored by the hearing world in general, by Edna, and by her husband. Sarah declares:"Unless you let me be an individual, an /, just as you are, you will never truly be able to come inside my silence and know me, And until you do that, I will never let myself know you. Until that time, we cannot be joined. We cannot share a relationship."

After a climactic argument in which James holds her arms at her side and forces her to speak, Sarah leaves James. James experiences remorse and begins to realize more clearly her position, but Sarah refuses to return. In order for them to be able to reconcile their differences, Sarah maintains that she and James "would have to meet in another place; not in silence or in sound but somewhere else. I don't know where that is now." The play ends with the hope that James and Sarah will be joined once again.

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Act I Summary