(Masterpieces of American Literature)

The Price involves two brothers, Victor and Walter, and focuses on the distribution of their dead parents’ belongings, all housed in a ten-room brownstone. The secondhand furniture broker, Solomon, has offered a thousand dollars for these belongings, and Victor has reached a tentative agreement with him, although his wife and brother both urge him to hold out for three times the amount offered.

The play involves family secrets and duplicity. The brothers’ father, who had been reasonably prosperous, suffered the fate of many during the Great Depression of the 1930’s and was reduced to living at a bare subsistence level. He made his sons realize that he did not have the wherewithal to send them to college. Victor accepted his fathers’ penury at face value, but Walter, who suspected that his father had squirreled away some money to increase his own sense of security, struggled to continue his education, eventually becoming a surgeon. Victor, meanwhile, became a police officer and, during the action of the play, has served on the police force for twenty-eight years.

As Walter’s fortunes increased, Victor at one point approached his brother, requesting a five-hundred-dollar loan so that he could continue his education. Walter, however, although he was easily able to spare the money, would not make the loan because of his suspicion, which proved to be quite accurate, that their father was hiding money from his sons.


(The entire section is 522 words.)