Act 2 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 900

Act 2, Scene 1 The boys receive another letter from Eddie that says he was in the hospital, temporarily for exhaustion. Arty is sick, so Grandma Kurnitz has Jay bring him her infamous mustard soup. Jay notes that the men looking for Louie called and left a message with Jay....

(The entire section contains 900 words.)

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Act 2, Scene 1
The boys receive another letter from Eddie that says he was in the hospital, temporarily for exhaustion. Arty is sick, so Grandma Kurnitz has Jay bring him her infamous mustard soup. Jay notes that the men looking for Louie called and left a message with Jay. The boys realize that Louie is double-crossing the mob. Grandma Kurnitz comes into the room, scolding Jay for taking too long to deliver the soup. Arty refuses to drink the horrid soup until Grandma Kurnitz threatens him with force. She leaves, and Louie comes in, fresh from a nap. He says that Arty has moxie for standing up to Grandma Kurnitz. Louie says he is going to leave that night, before the men looking for him come to get him, and then he goes to take a shower. Jay comes up, fuming that Grandma Kurnitz made him pay for three pretzels that she says some kids stole. Jay says he is going to ask Louie to take Jay with him when he goes so that Jay can make money and help out their father.

Bella comes up and says that she is going to announce to the family tonight that she is getting married. She leaves, and Louie comes back into the room. Jay asks Louie if he can go with him when Louie leaves, but Louie refuses and gets mad when Jay says that he does not want to rob anybody, implying that this is what Louie does for a living. When Jay offers to carry Louie's mysterious black bag, Louie is furious, thinking that the boys have been snooping around. He tries to force Arty to open the bag and see what is in there, but Jay saves a terrified Arty by standing up to Louie. Louie is impressed at Jay's moxie but says that there is no work for Jay, since Louie himself is closing up shop and fleeing town. Grandma Kurnitz comes in and tells Louie that he has to stay there for dinner that evening upon Bella's request. Grandma Kurnitz returns some money that Louie left on her dresser, refusing to take it because she does not approve of the way that Louie earned it.

Act 2, Scene 2
Eddie sends a letter to Grandma Kurnitz and money to cover the boys' food and Arty's medicine. After dinner that night, Louie tries to leave, anxious to get out of town, but Bella keeps stalling, trying to find the right moment to spring the news about her intended marriage. Louie gets more anxious and refuses to sit until Grandma Kurnitz yells at him. Bella still does not know how to start, so Jay helps her out by asking her questions. When the line of questions reveals that Bella has been dating the head usher at the movie theater, Louie forgets about leaving and starts to get concerned. Bella finally manages to say that she plans to marry the usher, Johnny, who has a learning impairment, and that they plan on opening a restaurant together. When Louie pesters Bella, she admits that they need five thousand dollars to open their restaurant and that Johnny has lived in a home for the mentally impaired in the past. Everybody is shocked, and Grandma Kurnitz tells Bella to stop talking. However, Bella launches into a speech about how she wants to have her own babies and that they will be happier than the Kurnitz children were because she will not be as rough on them. Grandma Kurnitz gets up and leaves the room.

Act 2, Scene 3
Arty writes a letter to Eddie, letting him know that things have gotten bad around the house. Jay and Arty note that Bella has been gone for two nights. Aunt Gert comes out of Grandma Kurnitz's room and says that Bella has been staying at Gert's house but that Grandma Kurnitz does not know this. Gert leaves, and Grandma Kurnitz comes out of her room, obviously shaken by the week's events. Bella walks in, but Grandma Kurnitz tells her to leave.

The boys leave, and Bella confronts her mother, who tries to say that Bella's mental state makes her nothing but a child. However, Bella says she has womanly needs and talks about the sexual affairs she has had with men in an attempt to find the warmth that has been missing from her home life. Bella reveals that Louie gave her the five thousand dollars to open her restaurant, but Bella says she is not going to do that. Bella also mentions Grandma Kurnitz's two children who died, the event that caused her to close herself off emotionally from her other children. Bella goes to put her things away, moving back in for good, and Grandma Kurnitz tries to hide her emotion.

Act 2, Scene 4
Ten months after Eddie left Arty and Jay with his mother, he returns to pick them up. While Eddie is in talking with his mother, the boys learn that Louie is fighting in the war, in Guadalcanal. Bella comes in and gives a football to Jay and a basketball to Arty. Jay and Arty say their awkward good-byes to Grandma Kurnitz and leave. Bella starts preparing dinner for her mother and herself, saying that she has met a new girlfriend and that this girl has a brother whom Bella would like to have over for dinner sometime. Grandma Kurnitz quietly accepts Bella's new assertiveness.

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Act 1 Summary