Last Updated on April 14, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 995
The scene opens with Blanche and Stella in their room. Blanche is writing a letter to her former boyfriend, Shep, and she reads the contents to Stella. In the letter, she suggests that she would like to visit him, but she also lies about her whereabouts, indicating that she and Stella have had a “continued round of entertainments, teas, cocktails, and luncheons.” As she is reading the letter to Stella, a fight can be heard between Eunice and Steve upstairs, complete with yelling and thrown objects. Eunice storms down the stairs, says she is going to call the police, and leaves.
Stanley enters, asking about the fight. Steve comes down the stairs asking about Eunice, and Stanley tells him that he saw her walking to the local bar to get a drink. Steve chases after her, and Stanley begins changing out of his bowling clothes. While he is getting dressed, Blanche asks about Stanley’s astrological sign, and she volunteers that she is a Virgo, the sign of the virgin. Stanley scoffs at this and then mentions that he has been talking with the auto parts supplier at work, a man named Shaw. Shaw evidently knows Blanche. He had met her at a seedy hotel when she was still in Alabama. Blanche denies knowing Shaw, but she is clearly distressed by the conversation.
Steve and Eunice come back and begin to make up, and Stanley leaves to go to the bar. Blanche asks Stella if there has been any gossip about her. When Stella responds that she hasn’t heard anything, Blanche cryptically suggests that she began engaging in unsavory activities when she realized she was losing Belle Reve. Stella dismisses her and offers her a Coke. As Stella is pouring the Coke into a glass that Blanche is holding, it foams over onto Blanche’s white blouse, and Blanche screams. As they work to blot her blouse, Blanche discloses that she must be nervous because Mitch is coming to pick her up. She also is concerned that he will not be interested in her if she shares her true age with him, and she is unsure about whether or not she should “put out.”
Stanley comes back and, standing in the street, calls for Eunice, Steve, and Stella. The latter couple come down the stairs, Steve chasing Eunice playfully, and Stella takes Stanley’s arm, leaving Blanche alone. A young man comes to the house, collecting money for The Evening Star, a local newspaper. Blanche invites him in, but tells him that she has no money to give him. As he tries to leave, she detains him, flirts with him, and kisses him before he leaves. As he turns the corner, Mitch arrives with a bouquet of flowers and presents them to Blanche.
Blanch and Mitch are returning from a date at an amusement park. It becomes clear that some time has passed since the last act, and the pair have gone on several dates. Blanche conveys an air of exhaustion, and Mitch is depressed. As they meet outside the flat, Mitch tells her that he will catch a streetcar home, and he confesses that he feels he let her down. Blanche says that she was trying to be happy during their date, but she failed to convey the feeling. She gives her purse to Mitch and asks him to find her key while she looks at the sky, and she tells Mitch that she will be leaving New Orleans soon. Mitch asks her if he can kiss her goodnight, and she wonders aloud why he feels the need to ask her. On a previous date, he tried to have sex with Blanche, and she “discouraged” it, so he feels that he cannot have any physical contact with her.
She invites him in for a drink, saying that they both need to relax more. While she looks for the liquor, she begins speaking in French and asks Mitch if he understands the language. When he replies that he does not, she continues speaking in French, asking if he wants to sleep with her and noting that it is a shame he does not understand her. She asks him to make himself comfortable, and he reluctantly gives his coat to her, noting that he is ashamed of how much he sweats through it and how he has a large physique. Blanche compliments his “imposing structure,” and he begins to speak proudly about how he regularly works out at the gym. He asks how much Blanche weighs, and when she asks him to guess, he picks her up off the ground and tells her that she is lighter than a feather. They share an awkward closeness before Blanche reminds him to behave like a gentleman. They are silent for a short while, and then Blanche begins speaking about how poorly Stanley treats her. Mitch suggests that Stanley does not understand her, although Blanche is insistent that he hates her.
Mitch then asks how old Blanche is. Blanche is caught off-guard by this question, but Mitch explains that his mother wants to know, because she is dying and wants assurance that her son is “settled” with someone appropriate when she goes. Blanche says that she understands the loneliness that comes with losing someone close and tells the full story of her late husband: Blanche had fallen madly in love with a young man when she was sixteen and soon married him. After they are married, she discovered him having sex with another man, and she momentarily pretended that nothing had happened. However, later that night, when they were out dancing, she told him that he disgusted her, and he ran out of the building and committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth. As she finishes the story, she sobs, and Mitch holds her, telling her that they need one another. They kiss, and Blanche collapses further into his arms.
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