Curly McClain, a footloose, ballad-singing cowboy. When he stops by Laurey’s farm to ask her to a “play-party” and she refuses, he asks Aunt Eller to go with him, singing the title song about a rejected lover abandoning the green lilacs for the “red, white, and blue” of a soldier’s life. When he notices the handyman Jeeter’s unhealthy interest in Laurey, Curly warns Jeeter off by besting him in a gun duel. At the party, when Laurey turns to him for comfort after she has fired Jeeter, he proposes marriage. After Jeeter’s accidental death while he is trying to kill Curly and Laurey, Curly is taken from his wedding celebration and held for trial, even though the crowd agrees that Jeeter provoked the fight with Curly that led to his death. Curly escapes jail for one night to go to Laurey and reassure her. He admits that as a cowboy he had few responsibilities, but his marriage to Laurey and the subsequent running of a farm will help him become a responsible citizen worthy of a new state.
Laurey Williams, a young farm owner romantic enough to dream about exotic adventures but reluctant to admit her love for Curly. Despite Curly’s promise of a fancy surrey, Laurey refuses to attend the “play-party” with him, accepting Jeeter’s offer instead, despite her fears that the handyman has set a neighbor’s house on fire as revenge for being denied food. Although Aunt Eller prefers Curly as a suitor, she admits that the farm needs a handyman. When Jeeter accosts Laurey at the party, she fires him. When Laurey turns to Curly for comfort, they admit their mutual love, and Curly proposes marriage. After the wedding and disrupted gathering afterward, Laurey locks herself in her room and refuses to eat.
Aunt Eller Murphy...
(The entire section is 745 words.)