The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

The play begins in the living room of the home in which Pam lives with her father and mother. Having just met Len, she has brought him home with her, and they are preparing to engage in sexual intercourse. Harry, getting ready for work, enters the room as they are settling themselves on the couch, but he says nothing and leaves immediately, allowing them to continue, rather jokingly, with the sexual act. After this encounter, Len moves in as a lodger and becomes seriously interested in Pam, but she is attracted to Fred, another, tougher young man.

In the next scene, Pam is taking care of a baby she has had with Fred. She is still living with her parents, and Len continues to board with them; he takes care of Pam—as much as she will let him, since she now despises him. Fred pays no attention to her. Mary and Harry seem to take the situation without comment, which is consistent with the fact that they do not speak to each other. Len acts as a go-between for Pam and the elusive Fred, but he has little success in getting Fred to visit her. He has even less success in pleasing Pam, who wants him to move out of her parents’ home and leave her alone. The baby, offstage much of the time, cries incessantly and is ignored by Pam.

The central scene of the play occurs in the local park, where Pam confronts Fred, begging him to visit her more often. In the ensuing quarrel she walks off, leaving the baby in its carriage for Fred to take care of, or not, as he pleases. Mocked by a gang of friends, Fred threatens to abandon the baby. Slowly at first, and then with increasing enthusiasm, the young men torment the baby. At first, Fred resists their suggestions that he join in, but as the attack on the child goes beyond pinching to punching and to throwing burning matches into the carriage, Fred gets involved....

(The entire section is 746 words.)