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O’NEILL, Eugene

Mourning becomes Electra

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.)

Peter —( 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!


Long Day’s Journey Into Night

EDMUND (with alcoholic talkativeness ): You've just told me some high spots in your memories. Want to hear mine? They're all connected with the sea. Here's one. When I was on the Squarehead square rigger, bound for Buenos Aires. Full moon in the Trades. The old hooker driving fourteen knots. I lay on the bowsprit, facing astern, with the water foaming into spume under me, the masts with every sail white in the moonlight, towering high above me. I became drunk with the beauty and singing rhythm of it, and for a moment I lost myself -- actually lost my life. I was set free! I dissolved in the sea, became white sails and flying spray, became beauty and rhythm, became moonlight and the ship and the high dim-starred sky! I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life, or the life of Man, to Life itself! To God, if you want to put it that way. Then another time, on the American Line, when I was lookout on the crow's nest in the dawn watch. A calm sea, that time. Only a lazy ground swell and a slow drowsy roll of the ship. The passengers asleep and none of the crew in sight. No sound of man. Black smoke pouring from the funnels behind and beneath me. Dreaming, not keeping lookout, feeling alone, and above, and apart, watching the dawn creep like a painted dream over the sky and sea which slept together. Then the moment of ecstatic freedom came. The peace, the end of the quest, the last harbor, the joy of belonging to a fulfillment beyond men's lousy, pitiful, greedy fears and hopes and dreams! And several other times in my life, when I was swimming far out, or lying alone on a beach, I have had the same experience. Became the sun, the hot sand, green seaweed anchored to a rock, swaying in the tide. Like a saint's vision of beatitude. Like the veil of things as they seem drawn back by an unseen hand. For a second you see -- and seeing the secret, are the secret. For a second there is meaning! Then the hand lets the veil fall and you are alone, lost in the fog again, and you stumble on toward nowhere, for no good reason!

(He grins wryly.)

It was a great mistake, my being born a man, I would have been much more successful as a sea gull or a fish. As it is, I will always be a stranger who never feels at home, who does not really want and is not really wanted, who can never belong, who must always be a little in love with death!…..


The Iceman cometh


Me neider. If dere's one ting more'n anudder I cares nuttin' about, it's de sucker game you and Hugo call de Movement. ( He chuckles--reminiscently) Reminds me of damn fool argument me and Mose Porter has de udder night. He's drunk and I'm drunker. He says, "Socialist and Anarchist, we ought to shoot dem dead. Dey's all no-good sons of bitches." I says, "Hold on, you talk 's if Anarchists and Socialists was de same." "Dey is," he says. "Dey's both no-good bastards." "No, dey ain't," I says. "I'll explain the difference. De Anarchist he never works. He drinks but he never buys, and if he do ever get a nickel, he blows it in on bombs, and he wouldn't give you nothin'. So go ahead and shoot him. But de Socialist, sometimes, he's got a job, and if he gets ten bucks, he's bound by his religion to split fifty-fifty wid you. You say--how about my cut, Comrade? And you gets de five. So you don't shoot no Socialists while I'm around. Dat is, not if dey got anything. Of course, if dey's broke, den dey's no-good bastards, too." (He laughs, immensely tickled .)


( grins with sardonic appreciation) Be God, Joe, you've got all the beauty of human nature and the practical wisdom of the world in that little parable.


(winks at Joe) Sure, Larry ain't de on'y wise guy in dis dump, hey, Joe?

(At a sound from the hall he turns as Don Parritt appears in the doorway. Rocky speaks to Larry out of the side of his mouth.) Here's your guy. (Parritt comes forward. He is eighteen, tall and broad-shouldered but thin, gangling and awkward. His face is good-looking, with blond curly hair and large regular features, but his personality is unpleasant. There is a shifting defiance and ingratiation in his light-blue eyes and an irritating aggressiveness in his manner. His clothes and shoes are new, comparatively expensive, sporty in style. He looks as though he belonged in a pool room patronized by would-be sports. He glances around defensively, sees Larry and comes forward.)