Act 1, Scenes 3–4 Summary

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Scene 3

Four hours later, as Rose takes laundry down from the line, Cory returns with his football equipment, and Rose berates him for leaving before helping Troy with his fence. Cory says Troy has mentioned the fence for the past five weekends without doing anything other than to go to Taylor’s and asks if Rose told Troy about the recruiter. Rose says she did but that Troy said little about it. She suggests Cory begin his chores before Troy returns, saying she will make him a sandwich if he does.

Troy surprises Rose with a kiss from behind. When she rebuffs his advances, telling him he needs to begin work on the fence, Troy asks if Cory is home and begins calling for him. When Cory reappears, Troy has begun sawing boards. He complains that Cory has done none of his chores and tells him to begin cutting boards.

Cory mentions that everyone else has a TV and suggests they could watch the World Series if they bought one, saying $200 is not a huge expense. Troy disagrees, saying the roof needs to be tarred and repaired, which would cost around the same amount. Cory counters that Troy has money and also that a television could be bought on credit. But Troy says he doesn't want to "owe nobody nothing." He offers to pay for half of the TV if Cory can make the other $100.

Cory begins talking about the Pirates; Troy says they are an all-white team because they make no use of their minority players, expecting them to be twice as good. He asks why Cory isn't working at the A&P after school, and Cory says his job is being held for him until after the football season.

Troy protests that football was not supposed to come before work or chores and says he will not sign the recruiter's form. Cory protests that his grades are good and that the recruiter is coming from California. But Troy says that if Cory doesn't go immediately back to the A&P and get his job back, he must quit football.

Cory asks why Troy has never liked him. Troy argues that he does everything to put a roof over Cory's head and feed him, not because he has to like him but because Cory is his son and it is his duty. He tells him again to go down to the A&P, and Cory exits.

Rose enters, telling Troy there is no harm in Cory playing football. Troy says he wants Cory to "move as far away from my life as he can get" and worries that the same thing that happened to him in sports will happen to Cory. Rose tells him that he was unable to play baseball because he was too old, not because he was Black, and that all Cory wants is to be told "good job, son." She says that times have changed and Troy is ignoring this fact.

Troy says he is doing the best he can do, giving his family everything he has, working hard for them all week, and that he can give them nothing else.

Scene 4

On a Friday, two weeks later, Cory is leaving home with his football equipment when the phone rings. It is his friend Jesse. Cory tells Jesse he will meet him at Earl's house and ignores Rose's instructions that he not leave the house, telling her he needs to go to the game.

Troy and Bono enter the yard. Troy is wearing different clothes. Rose asks what happened at the Commissioner's office, and Troy tells her that Mr. Rand called him into his office and told him he was to be a driver. Rose is very pleased.

Lyons appears, to Troy's displeasure. Troy says he thought Lyons was in jail, but Lyons argues that he doesn't gamble, and only goes to disreputable places to listen to the band. Rose asks why he hasn't brought Bonnie, and Bono tells Lyons Troy's news. He also asks whether Mr. Rand knows that Troy doesn’t have a driving license.

Troy says this is none of Mr. Rand's business and that he will soon have "two or three driver's licenses."

Lyons puts his hand in his pocket; Troy thinks he is going to ask again for money, but Lyons is actually trying to give back the ten-dollar loan. Troy refuses it, telling him to keep it for next time, but Lyons gives the money to Rose.

Gabriel appears, singing. He has a rose for Rose and tells Lyons he has been "chasing hellhounds." Lyons indulges him, and the pair chat about Heaven. When Rose asks if Gabriel would like dinner, he says he'll take a sandwich, but Lyons says that on days when he performs, he doesn't eat until after he has played. He asks Troy to come and listen to him play, but Troy refuses.

Gabriel tells Lyons that Troy is "mad at" him, and Rose explains that he believes Troy is mad at him for moving to Miss Pearl's, which Troy denies. Clearly, however, he does have concerns, which Rose seeks to allay by saying Miss Pearl looks after Gabriel well and that he simply wanted his own place. She also tells Troy that she wants him to sign the recruiter's paper for Cory.

Lyons is intrigued to know what Cory has been offered, but Troy says that Cory has lied to him about returning to the A&P and that if he disobeys his father, "it's time for him to move on." He says that his own father cared little for his children and that his work was all that mattered in his life. He had eleven children and felt unable to leave. Troy says that while he stayed with his family, his father was so full of "evilness" that his mother left the children when Troy was eight. When he was fourteen, Troy was caught by his father with a girl and beaten so fiercely that he ran away. He doesn't know what happened to his father.

Lyons says that he didn't know this about Troy. Troy says that he walked two hundred miles, which Lyons finds incredible. Troy says that Lyons doesn't know how good he has it. Troy was locked in a penitentiary for killing a man, although he says it was a misunderstanding. When he was released from prison, with the help of Rose, he dropped his criminal activity—mainly robberies—saying that only Rose and baseball mattered to him.

Lyons leaves for his club, and Bono says he must also leave. At this point, Cory arrives, furious. Troy has gone to his school and told his coach that Cory cannot play football anymore. Cory says that this was his only chance, but Troy says that Cory has lied to him. Cory says that he didn't lie and that Troy has done this to him purely because he is scared that his son will be better than him. Troy says that Cory has done this to himself—he has made a mistake and this is "strike one. Don't you strike out!"

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Act 1, Scenes 1–2 Summary


Act 2, Scenes 1–3 Summary