Student Question

What are the similarities and differences between Pinter's The Dumb Waiter and Delaney's A Taste of Honey?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the similarities between the two plays is that the protagonists share adversarial relationships.

In A Taste of Honey, Helen and Jo (her daughter) openly resent each other. It is evident that Helen provides for herself and Jo through financial gifts from her lovers. Meanwhile, Jo blames her mother for the fact that they are always on the move. Jo's complaint is similar to that of Gus in The Dumb Waiter.

For his part, Gus resents his nomadic lifestyle: he and Ben are always on the move. They have to sleep during the day and work in strange surroundings at night. After each job, they have to leave the area quickly. Both Gus and Jo desperately desire normalcy and stability, but their lifestyle choices and circumstances do not permit this.

Another similarity between the protagonists is that they are mutually dependent on each other but are resentful of this arrangement. Jo can't wait to get away from Helen, while Ben and Gus indulge in useless arguments. Yet, there are differences between both plays. There is a romantic element in A Taste of Honey that is not present in The Dumb Waiter.

In A Taste of Honey, Helen sees Peter as her ticket to freedom. She accepts Peter's offer of marriage, but the relationship does not work out. In the end, Peter leaves Helen for another woman. Meanwhile, Jo accepts her black boyfriend's offer of marriage, but he never returns to fulfill his promise of matrimony. In the end, both Helen and Jo (rejected by their lovers) must depend on each other again. They are back to their original, unhappy arrangement. Helen struggles with the fact that her grandchild will be half-black, while Jo grapples with her inability to love Geoff.

Unlike A Taste of Honey, the possibility of death is broached in The Dumb Waiter. The uneasy implication at the end of the play is that Gus will be Ben's victim. While the theme of betrayal looms large in A Taste of Honey, The Dumb Waiter actually explores murder as the ultimate betrayal.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial