Act 1, Scenes 3–5

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Last Reviewed on March 2, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1001

Scene 3

It is February 10, 2000. Reports of Steve Forbes and his discontinued bid to secure the Republication nomination for president are in the national news, alongside updates in the local news regarding the building of the Downtown Civic Convention Center in Reading.

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Chris and Jason, both twenty-one, eight years younger than they are at the start of the play, are drinking at the same bar as before while Oscar works quietly. The two friends discuss a motorcycle Jason hopes to buy when he has enough money, and Jason complains about his inadequate pay, which is lower than he likes after he pays union dues. Chris chimes in with his own money woes, and he mentions his goal of saving money for college, which takes Jason by surprise. In September, Chris explains, he plans to begin training to be a teacher at the local college in Reading. 

Jason mocks Chris’s future career as a history teacher at Reading High School and warns Chris that teaching jobs do not pay well. Stan, the bartender, agrees with Jason, suggesting to Chris that he keep his job at Olstead’s steel-tubing plant because he won’t “find better money out there.” Chris accepts the warnings, but he insists that he wants to “do something a little different than my moms and pops.” Jason makes a belittling joke at Chris’s expense, which causes Chris to drop his diplomatic tone. The two friends argue about the work conditions at the factory, and Jason reveals the real cause of his frustration with Chris when he exclaims, “We’re a team, you can’t leave!”

Scene 4

It is March 2, 2000. National news reports about the Republican presidential debate compete with local news updates about a house fire that “leaves a mother with five children homeless” and a new brass hardware factory soon to open in nearby Leesport, Pennsylvania.

Brucie, a black man in his forties, sits alone at the bar with his drink as the television blares in the background. As Oscar works behind the bar, Stan and Brucie discuss the Republican candidates debating on television before Stan turns it off. Brucie gossips with Stan about the strike at the textile mill where Brucie works, complaining about the temporary workers and describing his hope for a new contract. As Brucie laments his situation, Stan commiserates, remembering his own career at Olstead’s plant and claiming that “getting injured was the best thing that ever happened to [him].” Stan is still bitter about the disregard he experienced after his injury, especially because he had worked there twenty-eight years. Brucie is too upset to listen to Stan, and he tells Stan about a conflict he had at the union office: a white man blamed Brucie for taking the his job. Brucie curses the “blame game,” remarking, “I got enough of that in my marriage.” As he says this, his wife, Cynthia, and her friends Tracey and Jessie walk into the bar and order drinks from Stan. Brucie tries to engage Cynthia, who resists his attention, as the three women sit down at a table. 

Brucie becomes frustrated and slams the table while Tracey and Jessie support Cynthia in her refusal to respond to Brucie. Brucie persists until Cynthia gives in, asking Brucie about her fish before striding toward him. Brucie takes Cynthia’s hand as Tracey accuses Brucie of being disrespectful to women. With a drink sitting next to him on the bar, Brucie tells Cynthia he is in “a program.” Cynthia asks Brucie if he has been in touch with his son, Chris, who has recently been accepted to Albright College’s teaching program. Brucie wants to know who is responsible for Chris’s school fees. As Cynthia tries to persuade Brucie to feel proud of Chris for his accomplishments, Tracey interrupts their exchange to agree with Cynthia.

Brucie and Cynthia talk about their lives, and Cynthia mentions her...

(The entire section contains 1001 words.)

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Act 1, Scenes 1–2

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Act 1, Scenes 6–7

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