Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 912
Stanley is playing poker with his friends, Mitch, Steve, and Pablo. It becomes clear that Stanley is losing, and he becomes agitated, in part because the other men are not taking the poker game seriously. Mitch complains that he wants to leave because he has to be home to take care of his sick mother, and Stanley resentfully tells him to leave. Instead, Mitch goes to the bathroom, and Steve begins telling a joke instead of dealing cards, which further frustrates Stanley.
Blanche and Stella return from their evening out, and Stella asks that the men finish their card game because it is 2:30 in the morning. Stanley tells them to go upstairs with Eunice and dismisses Stella’s request by slapping her thigh. Blanche decides to bathe again, and runs into Mitch as he leaves the bathroom. Mitch is flustered by their interaction, and once he leaves, Blanche tells Stella that he has a sensitive look about him. Stella confirms that his mother is sick and that he is unmarried. Stella and Blanche begin talking about Stanley, and Stella suggests that out of the four men playing cards, only Stanley has the motivation to move beyond his station in life due to his tenacity and assertiveness. They continue joking about Steve and Pablo’s wives before Stanley yells at them from the other room to be quiet. Stella acknowledges that Stanley is drunk and goes to the bathroom, and Blanche turns on a radio. Stanley yells from the next room to turn it off, and when she does not, he comes into the room and turns it off himself.
When Stanley returns to the poker table, Mitch leaves to use the bathroom again, although this is presumably under the pretext of speaking with Blanche. Blanche tells him that the bathroom is in use and asks for a cigarette. He takes out a silver cigarette case with lines from a Robert Browning poem etched into it, and we learn that it was given to him by a former romantic interest who died. Mitch asks Blanche about herself, and she states that she has come to visit Stella because Stella has not been feeling well lately, and she characterizes herself as “an old maid schoolteacher.” Both Blanche and Mitch talk about their appreciation for literature, and Blanche turns on the radio again. Blanche and Mitch begin dancing, but Stanley comes in from the other room, picks up the radio, and throws it out the window.
Stella, now out of the bathroom, goes to the poker table and asks all of the men to leave, and Stanley backs her offstage, where he hits her. Then men restrain Stanley and try to calm him while Blanche collects some of Stella’s things and takes her upstairs to Eunice’s. The men decide to put Stanley in the shower to sober him, and then they leave. Stanley, now distraught and believing that his wife has left him, exits the shower, calls Eunice on the phone and asks to see Stella. Achieving no results via the phone, he goes into the street and screams her name. Eunice comes onto the balcony, tells him to stop, and goes back inside. He continues yelling Stella’s name. Stella comes out to the balcony and walks down the stairs to join Stanley in the street. He falls to his knees and they embrace. Stanley carries Stella back inside the flat. Meanwhile, Blanche stands outside the flat and worries for her sister. Mitch comes back, assures her that Stella and Stanley love one another, and offers her a cigarette from his silver case.
The next morning, Stella lies in bed serenely. Blanche comes to the room, asks if Stanley is there, and, upon learning that he is at the auto shop, rushes in to comfort her younger sister. Stella assures Blanche that she is overreacting, and they begin arguing about whether or not Stanley is a madman and whether or not Stella should be with him. As Stella begins tidying the house from the night before, Blanche continues to watch in disbelief. Blanche begins to think of ways to get Stella out of her marriage, despite the fact that Stella does not want to leave Stanley.
Blanche mentions that a few months prior, she ran into an old boyfriend named Shep in Miami who has made a fortune in Texas oil, and she suggests that he might be willing to financially back Stella while she attempted to start a new life away from Stanley. Blanche begins to write a letter to him, but she gives up when she is unsure of what words to use to appeal for help. Blanche insists that she will determine a way to help Stella, despite the fact that she has no money herself. Stella asserts that none of this is necessary, because she loves Stanley, but Blanch responds by reminding Stella of her upper-class upbringing.
As Blanche begins a lengthy monologue on why Stella should not be married to Stanley, Stanley returns home and hears Blanche denigrate him, calling him “bestial” and “common.” As Blanche continues to insult Stanley, he sneaks back out of the house before the women realize that he has been listening to their conversation and calls Stella’s name, pretending to have just returned from his work at the shop. Stella runs to her husband and hugs him while he grins and stares at Blanche.
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