Act 2, Scenes 4–5 Summary

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Scene 4 

Two months later, Lyons arrives at the house and calls for Rose, who tells him to be quiet because she has just gotten Raynell, the baby, to sleep. She says that Troy will be back any moment if he wants to wait for him—he has twenty dollars to give back to him—but Lyons says he needs to pick up Bonnie, so Rose tells him to put the money on the table, and it will get to Troy. 

As Lyons is leaving, Cory arrives. Lyons asks how he is, apologizing for missing his graduation. Cory says he is trying to find a job, and Lyons suggests he talk to Troy.

Cory goes outside and begins swinging a baseball bat. Troy arrives just as Rose is leaving for church with Raynell and a cake for a bake sale. Rose tells Troy that his twenty dollars from Lyons is on the table. She refuses to tell Troy when she will be back and tells him dinner is on the stove. Then she leaves.

Troy sits on the steps, takes out a bottle of gin, and is singing to himself when Bono enters the yard. Bono has not visited for "a month of Sundays," having been unable to catch up with Troy since his promotion. Troy says he is thinking about retiring, because driving is lonely, unlike working at the back of the truck. He asks how Lucille is, and Bono says that she is all right, although her arthritis has been flaring. He turns down Troy's offer of gin, saying he is on his way to Skinner's to play dominoes.

Lucille has told Rose that Bono finally bought her a new refrigerator, and Rose has told Lucille that Troy finally built his fence. Bono says they can therefore "call it even." He leaves.

Cory enters and tells Troy he needs to pass him. Troy is in the middle of the steps and tells Cory that this is his house. He tells Cory to say "excuse me," and the pair begin a scuffle.

Cory tells Troy that he isn't scared of him. Troy asks whether Cory plans simply to walk over him, and Cory says that he no longer needs to say "excuse me" to Troy, because he no longer counts in the household. He tells Troy again to get out of his way.

Troy tells Cory that he has spent seventeen years worrying about Cory. He tells him to act like a man and leave the house, which Troy has worked and paid for. Cory says that Troy has never given him anything; he has only held him back and made him afraid. He says that Rose, too, is scared of Troy.

Troy is furious, advancing toward Cory, who tells him he is just an old man and cannot hurt him. Troy says that Cory is "just another nigger on the street" to him. He tells Cory to get out of his yard, and Cory picks up the baseball bat and begins swinging it at Troy. The pair struggle over the bat, and Troy triumphs, holding it over Cory. He tells Cory to get out of his house.

Cory gets up, leaves, and says to tell Rose he will be back for his things. Troy says he will leave them on the outside of the fence.

Troy assumes a batting posture and begins to taunt Death, telling him it is "between you and me now!" He says he is ready for Death, but he won't "go easy."

Scene 5

It is 1965, on the morning of Troy's funeral. Rose, Lyons, and Bono are gathered in the garden when Raynell, in a flannel nightgown, emerges and begins poking around, saying that she wants to see if her garden has grown yet.

Rose tells her to give it a chance and it will grow. In the meantime, Raynell must come in and get ready.

Cory arrives in a Marine corporal's uniform, carrying a duffel bag. He asks Raynell if her mother is home. Raynell does not recognize Cory.

Rose is shocked to see Cory, and the pair embrace. Rose cries, not having expected Cory to make it. She says that Gabriel is still in the hospital, and it is unclear whether he will be able to come.

Rose reminds Raynell that Cory is her brother. She tells everyone to come into the house for breakfast, but Cory says he doesn't want anything. Rose exits with Raynell.

Lyons asks whether Cory is thinking about getting married. He and Bonnie have been separated for four years. He asks whether Cory is going to make the Marines a career. He suggests he should stick with it for twenty years and then retire early. He himself has been in prison for three years for cashing other people's checks. He has been let out for the funeral but still has nine months to go. He tells Cory that he is still playing music.

Rose tells Lyons that his eggs are ready. He and Cory share "a moment of silent grief" before Lyons enters the house and Raynell comes out. She asks whether it is true that her room used to be Cory's room.

Rose sends Raynell back into the house. She tells Cory that Troy was outside, swinging his bat, and then just fell over.

Cory says that he isn't going to attend the funeral. For once in his life, he feels he has to say no to his father. Rose says that she won't have him disrespect his parents in this way, but Cory says he needs to escape the "shadow" of his father. He wants to be himself.

Rose tells Cory that the shadow was only him growing into himself. She says that Cory is very like his father and that Troy wanted Cory to be everything he wasn't, while also trying to make him into everything he was. She says she believes he meant more good than harm and that when she first met him, she thought he was a man who could make her happy. It didn't work out that way, but Raynell "was all them babies I had wanted and never had."

Rose goes into the house when the reverend calls. Raynell comes out and asks Cory if he is in the Army or the Marines. She asks if Cory knows Blue, the dog Troy used to sing about all the time.

The two sing together the song about Blue, the "good old dog," which Troy was always singing.

Gabriel arrives and says the time has come for him to tell Saint Peter to open the gates. He blows his trumpet, but no sound emerges. He tries three times and then realizes it is broken. He begins to dance a "slow, strange dance . . . of avatistic signature and ritual." He begins to howl, and the gates of heaven open "as wide as God's closet."

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

Act 2, Scenes 1–3 Summary