The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

The Young Man from Atlanta is set in Houston, Texas, in the spring of 1950. The first of its six scenes takes place in the office of the wholesale grocery company where Will Kidder, who is sixty-four, has worked since he was in his early twenties. The setting of the remaining five scenes is the den of Will’s expensive new home.

The play begins with Will at his desk, taking a final look at his house plans. As Will explains to his fellow worker Tom Jackson, his house is tangible proof of his deepest conviction: that whatever his background, a man with a gift for competition will always succeed. Will seems untroubled by the fact that building the house has wiped out his savings or by his recent discovery that he has developed heart trouble. He has even come to terms with the death of his son Bill, which Will is certain was not an accident but suicide. The title character of the play is Bill’s former roommate, Randy Carter. Will confides to Tom that he suspects Randy’s motives and has forbidden his wife, Lily Dale, to have any further communication with him. Clearly Will believes in himself, in his future, and in his ability to deal with whatever life brings him. Before the scene ends, however, his confidence is shattered. Will is fired by Ted Cleveland, Jr., the son of the man with whom Will built the business. Cleveland tells Will that he is no longer effective. For the good of the business, he must be replaced by a younger man, Will’s...

(The entire section is 570 words.)