Act II Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 612

Act II, scene i
Two days later, David and Owen examine materials salvaged from the burning of the Klan headquarters in Atlanta. As the two villains leave, Ellard and Charlie enter, continuing their English lessons. Catherine and Betty join the group, and Ellard relates how he and Charlie have been in Tilghman, watching the workers build the new courthouse, where Ellard is learning how to lay bricks. Froggie returns to check in on Charlie and is shocked to see that Charlie has not only continued to pretend that he is a foreigner but has prospered in the ruse.

As a lark, Froggie traps Charlie into telling a story in his foreign language, and Charlie, up to the challenge, creates a fairy-tale-like narrative that everyone seems to understand. Charlie becomes the center of everyone’s attention, especially the adoring Catherine. Alone with Froggy, Charlie exults over his ‘‘adventure,’’ thinking that he may be acquiring a ‘‘personality.’’

When Froggy leaves and Owen enters, Charlie discovers a way to intimidate the racist Owen, scaring him with mysterious threats that lead Owen to call Betty and David into the room. Now with an audience, Charlie also humiliates David, who is astounded when Catherine enters and announces that Ellard’s success with bricklaying and teaching English to Charlie has led to her decision to share the family inheritance with her brother.

As Charlie teaches the group about his language and culture, David and Owen are made to look very stupid. Owen brandishes a knife, threatens everyone with Klan vengeance, and storms out. David follows to calm him, and the rest are left to worry about Owen’s threats. Catherine is leaving a frantic message for Froggy on an answering machine just as Owen cuts the power to the lodge. All turn to Charlie for a plan.

Act II, scene ii
That evening, Charlie’s plan for withstanding the Klan attack is in place, though no one is confi- dent of its success. As the Klan marches up the hill toward the darkened lodge, Charlie rouses Betty, Catherine, and Ellard to their battle stations. Hooded and heavily armed men crash through the door, led by Owen, who confronts Betty and Charlie, announcing the vigilante justice of the Klan. The power to the house is restored and Klansmen are sent upstairs to find Catherine and Ellard. An armed Klansman comes down holding Catherine, who says that the others captured Ellard.

Owen orders Charlie to dance on a table, but Charlie assumes a menacing posture and threatens Owen instead. Pointing his finger at one of the Klansman, Charlie seems to make the hooded figure melt into the floor, leaving only the Klan robe behind. Owen and the other terrified Klansmen bolt from the lodge. The trick is then revealed. Upstairs, Ellard had knocked out a Klansman with a croquet mallet and put on his robe. Then, standing over the trap door to the cellar, Ellard was able to ‘‘disappear’’ on cue.

David enters from upstairs, holding his bruised head, and Catherine discovers her fiance’s villainy. But as David is backing out the door, Froggy enters, verifies that David owns the van parked outside, and blows up the van with his detonating device. Catherine announces she is going to help Betty fix up the lodge and suggests that Ellard do the brickwork.

As they are saying goodbye to Charlie, Froggy presents his friend with a telegram that makes Charlie very sad. Catherine comforts Charlie and asks him to stay. Still in ‘‘character,’’ Charlie agrees. Froggy reveals the news to Betty: the telegram did not announce that Charlie’s wife had died but that she had run off with a proctologist.

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Act I Summary