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O’NEILL, Eugene

Mourning becomes Electra

ACT III – Excerpt
Orin —( with unnatural casualness ) Gone home. ( then with a quick, meaning, mocking glance at Lavinia ) I’m just going in the study to clean my pistol. Darn thing’s gotten so rusty. Glad you came now, Peter. You can keep Vinnie company. ( He turns and goes out the door. Peter stares after him puzzledly.)

Lavinia —( with a stifled cry ) Orin! ( There is no answer but the sound of the study door being shut. She starts to run after him, stops herself, then throws herself into Peter’s arms, as if for protection against herself and begins to talk volubly to drown out thought.) Hold me close, Peter! Nothing matters but love, does it? That must come first! No price is too great, is it? Or for peace! One must have peace — one is too weak to forget — no one has the right to keep anyone from peace! ( She makes a motion to cover her ears with her hands.)

Pete r —( alarmed by her hectic excitement ) He’s a darned fool to monkey with a pistol — in his state. Shall I get it away from him?

Lavinia —( holding him tighter — volubly ) Oh, won’t it be wonderful, Peter — once we’re married and have a home with a garden and trees! We’ll be so happy! I love everything that grows simply — up toward the sun — everything that’s straight and strong! I hate what’s warped and twists and eats into itself and dies for a lifetime in shadow. ( then her voice rising as if it were about to break hysterically — again with t he instinctive movement to cover her ears) I can’t bear waiting — waiting and waiting and waiting —! (There is a muffled shot from the study across the hall.)

Days without end

JOHN--I listen to people talking about this universal breakdown we are in and I marvel at their stupid cowardice. It is so obvious that they deliberately cheat themselves because their fear of change won't let them face the truth. They don't want to understand what has happened to them. All they want is to start the merry-go-round of blind greed all over again. They no longer know what they want this country to be, what they want it to become, where they want it to go. It has lost all meaning for them except as a pig-wallow. And so their lives as citizens have no beginnings, no ends. They have lost the ideal of the Land of the Free. Freedom demands initiative, courage, the need to decide what life must mean to oneself. To them, that is terror. They explain away their spiritual cowardice by whining that the time for individualism is past, when it is their courage to possess their own souls which is dead--and stinking! No, they don't want to be free. Slavery means security--of a kind, the only kind they have courage for. It means they need not think. They have only to obey orders from owners who are, in turn, their slaves!