Look Back in Anger

by John Osborne

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Act 2, Scene 2 Summary

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Last Updated on November 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 425

In the flat, Alison is packing the things on her dressing table. Her father, Colonel Redfern, sits stage left as the two of them discuss Jimmy and the state of Alison’s marriage. Colonel Redfern muses that he’s always thought it was strange for an educated young man like Jimmy to be running a candy stall for a living. Alison, dismissing him, notes that Jimmy has done plenty of things in his life, and this seems to make him as happy as anything else.

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The two talk, and the colonel reveals some regret over how he and his wife treated Jimmy during his courtship of their daughter. He had been following his wife’s lead, he explains, and though he hadn’t really ever approved of Jimmy, he now realizes the extent to which their interference strained their relationship with Alison.

Surprised by this revelation, Alison tells him all the terrible things Jimmy says about her mother, and the two continue to analyze the relationship. As Colonel Redfern reflects on his time in the service, living in colonial India, Alison picks up the stuffed squirrel. She starts to pack it, then hesitates, returning it to the chest of drawers and collapsing into tears.

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Cliff enters in time to say goodbye to Alison and meet Colonel Redfern, and Helena reveals that she can’t join them as expected—she has an appointment nearby the next day. Cliff and Alison share a tender goodbye, and Alison asks Cliff to look after Jimmy and give him a letter she wrote. He promises that he will, and they leave.

Left alone, Helena and Cliff speculate on what Jimmy will do next. Cliff, anxious about Jimmy’s mood on his return, leaves the letter with Helena and goes out for a drink.

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Latest answer posted June 20, 2010, 7:15 am (UTC)

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Helena, alone, starts puttering around the room. Jimmy enters, exclaiming that he saw Colonel Redfern driving away with Alison in the passenger seat. Seeing Helena, he asks if she’s the only one not afraid to stay. She gives him Alison’s note, and he reads it. When he starts to respond, she tells him there’s something else he needs to know: Alison is pregnant.

Jimmy reacts to this news with surprise but no tenderness. Instead, he begins a tirade about how he simply doesn’t care if Alison has a baby; he’s just spent eleven hours by someone’s deathbed. His rant escalates, and eventually Helena slaps him.

Stunned, Jimmy freezes. After a moment, the two share a passionate kiss, and the curtain falls.

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Act 2, Scene 1 Summary

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Act 3, Scene 1 Summary