Title: Desire Under the Elms Author: Eugene O'Neill () * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: monpaysofchlesspi.ga Edition: 1 Language: . Desire Under the Elms is written by the legendary American playwright. Eugene O'Neill ( - ). It was published in and performed on November. Desire Under the Elms. Goodman Theatre. Student Subscription Series. / Season. Student Guide written by. Eugene O'Neill. Student Guide written.
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Desire Under the Elms: A Play by Eugene O'Neil. Desire Under the Elms is the last of O'Neil's naturalistic plays written in three parts with each part in split into. Desire Under the Elms. photo by craig schwartz. Study Guide. Table of Contents. 3Cast of Characters & Setting. 4About the Play: Synopsis. PDF | Greek mythology serves as the background of this play. O' Neill Desire Under the Elms is also the first of O' Neill's drama in which the.
They laugh uproariously, slapping their thighs. What's come over ye? Air ye drunk? They grow more and more hilarious and excited. They do an absurd Indian war dance about the old man, who is petrified between rage and the fear that they are insane. He and Peter stop their dance, holding their sides, rocking with wild laughter.
It's made ye mad! He retreats back beyond the vision of the old man and takes the bag of money and flaunts it in the air above his head, laughing. They both throw, the stones hitting the parlor window with a crash of glass, tearing the shade.
But they beat a capering retreat before him, Simeon with the gate still under his arm. Cabot comes back, panting with impotent rage. Their voices as they go off take up the song of the gold-seekers to the old tune of "Oh, Susannah! Californi-a, That's the land fur me! I'm off to Californi-a! With my wash bowl on my knee.
In the meantime, the window of the upper bedroom on right is raised and Abbie sticks her head out. She looks down at Cabot--with a sigh of relief. He doesn't answer. Then in possessive tones This here's a nice bedroom, Ephraim. It's a r'al nice bed. Is it my room, Ephraim? She cannot control a grimace of aversion and pulls back her head slowly and shuts the window.
A sudden horrible thought seems to enter Cabot's head. They been up to somethin'! Mebbe--mebbe they've pizened the stock--'r somethin'! He almost runs off down toward the barn. A moment later the kitchen door is slowly pushed open and Abbie enters. For a moment she stands looking at Eben. He does not notice her at first. Her eyes take him in penetratingly with a calculating appraisal of his strength as against hers.
But under this her desire is dimly awakened by his youth and good looks. Suddenly he becomes conscious of her presence and looks up.
Their eyes meet. He leaps to his feet, glowering at her speechlessly. I'm Abbie-- She laughs. I mean, I'm yer new Maw. He's an old man. A long pause. They stare at each other. I don't want t' pretend playin' Maw t' ye, Eben. I want t' be frens with ye. Mebbe with me fur a fren ye'd find ye'd like livin' here better. I kin make it easy fur ye with him, mebbe.
EBEN-- with bitter scorn Ha! They stare again, Eben obscurely moved, physically attracted to her--in forced stilted tones Yew kin go t' the devil! I'm all prepared t' have ye agin me--at fust. I don't blame ye nuther. I'd feel the same at any stranger comin' t' take my Maw's place. He shudders. She is watching him carefully. Yew must've cared a lot fur yewr Maw, didn't ye? My Maw died afore I'd growed. I don't remember her none.
I'm not the wust in the world--an' yew an' me've got a lot in common. I kin tell that by lookin' at ye. Waal--I've had a hard life, too--oceans o' trouble an' nuthin' but wuk fur reward. I was a orphan early an' had t' wuk fur others in other folks' hums.
Then I married an' he turned out a drunken spreer an' so he had to wuk fur others an' me too agen in other folks' hums, an' the baby died, an' my husband got sick an' died too, an' I was glad sayin' now I'm free fur once, on'y I diskivered right away all I was free fur was t' wuk agen in other folks' hums, doin' other folks' wuk till I'd most give up hope o' ever doin' my own wuk in my own hum, an' then your Paw come. Cabot appears returning from the barn. He comes to the gate and looks down the road the brothers have gone.
A faint strain of their retreating voices is heard: That's the place for me. EBEN-- fighting against his growing attraction and sympathy--harshly An' bought yew--like a harlot! She is stung and flushes angrily.
She has been sincerely moved by the recital of her troubles. He adds furiously An' the price he's payin' ye--this farm--was my Maw's, damn ye!
We'll see 'bout that! What else'd I marry an old man like him fur?
Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953)
ABBIE-- walks up to him--a queer coarse expression of desire in her face and body--slowly An' upstairs--that be my bedroom--an' my bed! He stares into her eyes, terribly confused and torn.
She adds softly I hain't bad nor mean--'ceptin' fur an enemy--but I got t' fight fur what's due me out o' life, if I ever 'spect t' git it. EBEN-- stupidly--as if hypnotized Ay-eh. I hate ye! He rushes out the door. She looks at the table, proudly. I'll wash up my dishes now. Eben appears outside, slamming the door behind him. He comes around corner, stops on seeing his father, and stands staring at him with hate.
T' hell with yewr God! Cabot turns. He and Eben glower at each other.
I might've knowed it. I'm wuth ten o' ye yit, old's I be! Ye'll never be more'n half a man! They go. A last faint note of the "Californi-a" song is heard from the distance. Abbie is washing her dishes. The exterior of the farmhouse, as in Part One--a hot Sunday afternoon two months later. Abbie, dressed in her best, is discovered sitting in a rocker at the end of the porch.
She rocks listlessly, enervated by the heat, staring in front of her with bored, half-closed eyes. Eben sticks his head out of his bedroom window. He looks around furtively and tries to see--or hear--if anyone is on the porch, but although he has been careful to make no noise, Abbie has sensed his movement. She stops rocking, her face grows animated and eager, she waits attentively.
Eben seems to feel her presence, he scowls back his thoughts of her and spits with exaggerated disdain--then withdraws back into the room. Abbie waits, holding her breath as she listens with passionate eagerness for every sound within the house. Eben comes out. His falter, he is confused, he turns away and slams the door resentfully. At this gesture, Abbie laughs tantalizingly, amused but at the same time piqued and irritated. He scowls, strides off the porch to the path and starts to walk past her to the road with a grand swagger of ignoring her existence.
He is dressed in his store suit, spruced up, his face shines from soap and water. Abbie leans forward on her chair, her eyes hard and angry now, and, as he passes her, gives a sneering, taunting chuckle. EBEN-- with a sneer Waal--ye hain't so durned putty yerself, be ye? They stare into each other's eyes, his held by hers in spite of himself, hers glowingly possessive. Their physical attraction becomes a palpable force quivering in the hot air. Ye may think ye mean it, mebbe, but ye don't.
Ye can't. It's agin nature, Eben. Ye been fightin' yer nature ever since the day I come--tryin' t' tell yerself I hain't purty t' ye. She laughs a low humid laugh without taking her eyes from his. A pause--her body squirms desirously--she murmurs languorously Hain't the sun strong an' hot? Ye kin feel it burnin' into the earth--Nature--makin' thin's grow--bigger 'n' bigger--burnin' inside ye--makin' ye want t' grow--into somethin' else--till ye're jined with it--an' it's your'n--but it owns ye, too--an' makes ye grow bigger--like a tree--like them elums-- She laughs again softly, holding his eyes.
He takes a step toward her, compelled against his will. Nature'll beat ye, Eben. Ye might's well own up t' it fust's last. Abbie laughs. EBEN-- defiantly No. I'm fightin' him--fightin' yew--fightin' fur Maw's rights t' her hum! This breaks her spell for him.
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He glowers at her. An' I'm onto ye. Ye hain't foolin' me a mite. Ye're aimin' t' swaller up everythin' an' make it your'n.
Waal, you'll find I'm a heap sight bigger hunk nor yew kin chew! He turns from her with a sneer. He laughs and again starts to walk away. EBEN-- tauntingly Mebbe--but she's better'n yew. She owns up fa'r 'n' squar' t' her doin's. ABBIE-- stung--fiercely Ye'll never live t' see the day when even a stinkin' weed on it'll belong t' ye!
Go on t' yer slut--disgracin' yer Paw 'n' me! I'll git yer Paw t' horsewhip ye off the place if I want t'! Ye're only livin' here 'cause I tolerate ye!
Git along! I hate the sight o' ye! She stops, panting and glaring at him. He turns and strides off up the road. She follows his retreating figure with concentrated hate. Old Cabot appears coming up from the barn. The hard, grim expression of his face has changed. He seems in some queer way softened, mellowed. His eyes have taken on a strange, incongruous dreamy quality. Yet there is no hint of physical weakness about him--rather he looks more robust and younger.
Abbie sees him and turns away quickly with unconcealed aversion. He comes slowly up to her. I never could b'ar him noways.
He's so thunderin' soft--like his Maw. That's what Eben was sayin'. Waal, he'd best not do nothin' t' try me 'r he'll soon diskiver.
She keeps her face turned away. His gradually softens. He stares up at the sky. Purty, hain't it? She snickers contemptuously. I'm gittin' ripe on the bough. She stares at him mystified. He goes on. It's allus lonesome cold in the house--even when it's bilin' hot outside.
Hain't yew noticed? I'm gettin' t' learn to b'ar his softness--jest like her'n. I calc'late I c'd a'most take t' him--if he wa'n't sech a dumb fool! I hain't, yew bet--not by a hell of a sight--I'm sound 'n' tough as hickory! Now that his cussed sinful brothers is gone their path t' hell, they's no one left but Eben. Why don't ye say nothin' 'bout me? Hain't I yer lawful wife? Ye be. A pause--he stares at her desirously--his eyes grow avid--then with a sudden movement he seizes her hands and squeezes them, declaiming in a queer camp meeting preacher's tempo Yew air my Rose o' Sharon!
Behold, yew air fair; yer eyes air doves; yer lips air like scarlet; yer two breasts air like two fawns; yer navel be like a round goblet; yer belly be like a heap o' wheat. He covers her hand with kisses. She does not seem to notice. She stares before her with hard angry eyes. I'd sit an' know it was all a-dying with me an' no one else'd ever own what was mine, what I'd made out o' nothin' with my own sweat 'n' blood! Them I'd turn free. ABBIE-- furiously So that's the thanks I git fur marryin' ye--t' have ye change kind to Eben who hates ye, an' talk o' turnin' me out in the road.
Whar's he gone? T' see that harlot, Min! I tried fur t' stop him. Disgracin' yew an' me--on the Sabbath, too! Kin ye find excuses fur that? CABOT-- stares at her--then a terrible expression of rage comes over his face--he springs to his feet shaking all over. By the A'mighty God--I'll end him!
An' I was mad at thinkin'--ye'd leave him the farm. Don't think o' me! Ye mustn't drive him off. Who'll ye get to help ye on the farm? They's no one hereabouts. He sits down on the edge of the porch. She sits beside him.
He murmurs contemptuously I oughtn't t' git riled so--at that 'ere fool calf. What son o' mine'll keep on here t' the farm--when the Lord does call me?
Simeon an' Peter air gone t' hell--an Eben's follerin' 'em. A son is me--my blood--mine. Mine ought t' git mine. An' then it's still mine--even though I be six foot under. D'ye see? I see. She becomes very thoughtful, her face growing shrewd, her eyes studying Cabot craftily. By the Etarnal, I kin break most o' the young fellers's backs at any kind o' work any day o' the year!
We know that. Why d'ye stare so? Hain't ye never thought o' that afore? I been thinkin' o' it all along. Ay-eh--an' I been prayin' it'd happen, too. They hain't nothin' I wouldn't do fur ye then, Abbie. Ye'd hev on'y t' ask it--anythin' ye'd a mind t'! I swar it! May I be everlastin' damned t' hell if I wouldn't!
He sinks to his knees pulling her down with him. He trembles all over with the fervor of his hopes. Pray t' the Lord agen, Abbie. It's the Sabbath! I'll jine ye!
Two prayers air better nor one. An' God hearkened unto Abbie! Pray, Abbie! Pray fur him to hearken! He bows his head, mumbling. She pretends to do likewise but gives him a side glance of scorn and triumph. About eight in the evening.
The interior of the two bedrooms on the top floor is shown. Eben is sitting on the side of his bed in the room on the left.
On account of the heat he has taken off everything but his undershirt and pants. His feet are bare. He faces front, brooding moodily, his chin propped on his hands, a desperate expression on his face. In the other room Cabot and Abbie are sitting side by side on the edge of their bed, an old four-poster with feather mattress. He is in his night shirt, she in her nightdress. He is still in the queer, excited mood into which the notion of a son has thrown him. Both rooms are lighted dimly and flickeringly by tallow candles.
Sometimes ye air the farm an' sometimes the farm be yew. That's why I clove t' ye in my lonesomeness. He pounds his knee with his fist.
Me an' the farm has got t' beget a son! My mind's clear's a well. Ye don't know me, that's it. He stares hopelessly at the floor. In the next room Eben gets up and paces up and down distractedly. Abbie hears him. Her eyes fasten on the intervening wall with concentrated attention. Eben stops and stares. Their hot glances seem to meet through the wall. Unconsciously he stretches out his arms for her and she half rises.
Then aware, he mutters a curse at himself and flings himself face downward on the bed, his clenched fists above his head, his face buried in the pillow. Abbie relaxes with a faint sigh but her eyes remain fixed on the wall; she listens with all her attention for some movement from Eben. CABOT-- suddenly raises his head and looks at her--scornfully Will ye ever know me--'r will any man 'r woman? I calc'late 'twa'n't t' be. He turns away. Abbie look at the wall. Then, evidently unable to keep silent about his thoughts, without looking at his wife, he puts out his hand and clutches her knee.
She starts violently, looks at him, sees he is not watching her, concentrates again on the wall and pays no attention to what he says. Listen, Abbie. When I come here fifty odd year ago--I was jest twenty an' the strongest an' hardest ye ever seen--ten times as strong an' fifty times as hard as Eben.
Waal--this place was nothin' but fields o' stones. Folks laughed when I tuk it. They couldn't know what I knowed. When ye kin make corn sprout out o' stones, God's livin' in yew! They wa'n't strong enuf fur that! They reckoned God was easy.
They laughed. They don't laugh no more. Some died hereabouts. Some went West an' died. They're all under ground--fur follerin' arter an easy God. God hain't easy. He shakes his head slowly. An' I growed hard. Folks kept allus sayin' he's a hard man like 'twas sinful t' be hard, so's at last I said back at 'em: Waal then, by thunder, ye'll git me hard an' see how ye like it!
I got weak--despairful--they was so many stones. They was a party leavin', givin' up, goin' West. I jined 'em.
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We tracked on 'n' on. We come t' broad medders, plains, whar the soil was black an' rich as gold. Nary a stone. Ye'd on'y to plow an' sow an' then set an' smoke yer pipe an' watch thin's grow.
I could o' been a rich man--but somethin' in me fit me an' fit me--the voice o' God sayin': Git ye back t' hum!
I actooly give up what was rightful mine! God's hard, not easy! God's in the stones! Build my church on a rock--out o' stones an' I'll be in them! That's what He meant t' Peter! He sighs heavily--a pause. I picked 'em up an' piled 'em into walls. Ye kin read the years o' my life in them walls, every day a hefted stone, climbin' over the hills up and down, fencin' in the fields that was mine, whar I'd made thin's grow out o' nothin'--like the will o' God, like the servant o' His hand.
It wa'n't easy. It was hard an' He made me hard fur it. He pauses. All the time I kept gittin' lonesomer. I tuk a wife. She bore Simeon an' Peter. She was a good woman. She wuked hard. We was married twenty year. She never knowed me. She helped but she never knowed what she was helpin'. I was allus lonesome. She died. After that it wa'n't so lonesome fur a spell. I had no time t' fool away countin' 'em. Sim an' Peter helped.
The farm growed. It was all mine! When I thought o' that I didn't feel lonesome. I tuk another wife--Eben's Maw. Her folks was contestin' me at law over my deeds t' the farm--my farm! That's why Eben keeps a-talkin' his fool talk o' this bein' his Maw's farm. She bore Eben. She was purty--but soft. She tried t' be hard. She couldn't. She never knowed me nor nothin'. It was lonesomer 'n hell with her.
After a matter o' sixteen odd years, she died. They hated me 'cause I was hard. I hated them 'cause they was soft. They coveted the farm without knowin' what it meant. It made me bitter 'n wormwood. It aged me--them coveting what I'd made fur mine. Then this spring the call come--the voice o' God cryin' in my wilderness, in my lonesomeness--t' go out an' seek an' find!
Yew air my Rose o' Sharon! Yer eyes air like.
She has turned a blank face, resentful eyes to his. He stares at her for a moment--then harshly Air ye any the wiser fur all I've told ye? If ye don't hev a son t' redeem ye. This in a tone of cold threat. Ye give me the chills sometimes. He shivers. It's cold in this house. It's oneasy. They's thin's pokin' about in the dark--in the corners. He pulls on his trousers, tucking in his night shirt, and pulls on his boots.
They know. They know the farm an' me. They'll give me peace. He turns to go out the door. I'm a-goin' down now an' light up! She makes him a mocking bow. Won't ye come courtin' me in the best parlor, Mister Cabot? EBEN-- staring at her--horribly confused--dully Don't ye dare! It hain't been opened since Maw died an' was laid out thar! Don't ye.
But her eyes are fixed on his so burningly that his will seems to wither before hers. He stands swaying toward her helplessly. ABBIE-- holding his eyes and putting all her will into her words as she backs out the door I'll expect ye afore long, Eben.
EBEN-- stares after her for a while, walking toward the door. A light appears in the parlor window. He murmurs In the parlor? This seems to arouse connotations for he comes back and puts on his white shirt, collar, half ties the tie mechanically, puts on coat, takes his hat, stands barefooted looking about him in bewilderment, mutters wonderingly Maw!
Whar air yew? The interior of the parlor is shown. A grim, repressed room like a tomb in which the family has been interred alive. Abbie sits on the edge of the horsehair sofa. She has lighted all the candles and the room is revealed in all its preserved ugliness. A change has come over the woman.
She looks awed and frightened now, ready to run away. The door is opened and Eben appears.
Desire Under the Elms
His face wears an expression of obsessed confusion. He stands staring at her, his arms hanging disjointedly from his shoulders, his feet bare, his hat in his hand.
EBEN-- dully Ay-eh. Mechanically he places his hat carefully on the floor near the door and sits stiffly beside her on the edge of the sofa. They both remain rigid, looking straight ahead with eyes full of fear. EBEN-- simply Maw. I wanted t' yell an' run. Now--since yew come--seems like it's growin' soft an' kind t' me. EBEN--Maw allus loved me.
Mebbe that makes it kind t' me. EBEN-- dully I dunno. I should think she'd hate ye. I kin feel it don't--not no more. EBEN--Hate ye fur stealin' her place--here in her hum--settin' in her parlor whar she was laid-- He suddenly stops, staring stupidly before him. It's kind t' me!
It don't b'ar me no grudges fur what I never knowed an' couldn't help! EBEN--Maw b'ars him a grudge. Don't git riled thinkin' o' him. Think o' yer Maw who's kind t' us. Tell me about yer Maw, Eben. EBEN--They hain't nothin' much. She was kind. She was good. ABBIE-- putting one arm over his shoulder.
He does not seem to notice--passionately I'll be kind an' good t' ye! EBEN--Sometimes she used t' sing fur me. EBEN--This was her hum.
This was her farm. This is my farm! EBEN--He married her t' steal 'em. She was soft an' easy. He couldn't 'preciate her. EBEN--He murdered her with his hardness. EBEN--She died. He bursts into a fit of sobbing. I'll die fur ye! In spite of her overwhelming desire for him, there is a sincere maternal love in her manner and voice--a horribly frank mixture of lust and mother love. Don't cry, Eben!
I'll take yer Maw's place! I'll be everythin' she was t' ye! Let me kiss ye, Eben! She pulls his head around.
He makes a bewildered pretense of resistance. She is tender. Don't be afeered! I'll kiss ye pure, Eben--same 's if I was a Maw t' ye--an' ye kin kiss me back 's if yew was my son--my boy--sayin' good-night t' me! Kiss me, Eben. They kiss in restrained fashion. Then suddenly wild passion overcomes her. She kisses him lustfully again and again and he flings his arms about her and returns her kisses.
Suddenly, as in the bedroom, he frees himself from her violently and springs to his feet. He is trembling all over, in a strange state of terror. Abbie strains her arms toward him with fierce pleading. Don't ye leave me, Eben! Can't ye see it hain't enuf--lovin' ye like a Maw--can't ye see it's got t' be that an' more--much more--a hundred times more--fur me t' be happy--fur yew t' be happy?
EBEN-- to the presence he feels in the room Maw! What d'ye want? What air ye tellin' me? She knows I love ye an' I'll be good t' ye. Can't ye feel it? Don't ye know? She's tellin' ye t' love me, Eben!
I feel--mebbe she--but--I can't figger out--why--when ye've stole her place--here in her hum--in the parlor whar she was-- ABBIE-- fiercely She knows I love ye! EBEN-- his face suddenly lighting up with a fierce, triumphant grin I see it! I sees why. It's her vengeance on him--so's she kin rest quiet in her grave! What d'we give a durn? I love ye, Eben!
God knows I love ye! She stretches out her arms for him. EBEN-- throws himself on his knees beside the sofa and grabs her in his arms--releasing all his pent-up passion An' I love yew, Abbie!
I been dyin' fur want o' ye--every hour since ye come! I love ye! Their lips meet in a fierce, bruising kiss. It is just dawn. The front door at right is opened and Eben comes out and walks around to the gate. He is dressed in his working clothes.
He seems changed. His face wears a bold and confident expression, he is grinning to himself with evident satisfaction. As he gets near the gate, the window of the parlor is heard opening and the shutters are flung back and Abbie sticks her head out. Her hair tumbles over her shoulders in disarray, her face is flushed, she looks at Eben with tender, languorous eyes and calls softly ABBIE--Eben. I'm goin' t' miss ye fearful all day. EBEN--An' me yew, ye kin bet! He goes to her. They kiss several times.
He draws away, laughingly Thar. That's enuf, hain't it? Ye won't hev none left fur next time. That's gospel! Now air yew satisfied? She smiles at him adoringly. EBEN--I better git t' the barn. The old critter's liable t' suspicion an' come sneakin' up. I kin allus pull the wool over his eyes. I'm goin' t' leave the shutters open and let in the sun 'n' air. This room's been dead long enuf. Now it's goin't' be my room! EBEN-- frowning Ay-eh. We give it life--our lovin' did. She kin sleep now.
EBEN--It jest come up in my mind o' itself. He doesn't answer. She yawns. Waal, I'm a-goin' t' steal a wink o' sleep. I'll tell the Old Man I hain't feelin' pert. Let him git his own vittles. EBEN--I see him comin' from the barn. Ye better look smart an' git upstairs. Don't ferget me. She throws him a kiss. He grins--then squares his shoulders and awaits his father confidently. Cabot walk slowly up from the left, staring up at the sky with a vague face.
Star-gazin' in daylight? EBEN-- looking around him possessively It's a durned purty farm. EBEN-- grinning How d'ye know? Them eyes o' your'n can't see that fur. This tickles his humor and he slaps his thigh and laughs. That's a good un! Whar'd ye steal the likker? EBEN-- good-naturedly 'Tain't likker. Jest life. Let's shake hands. EBEN--Then don't. Mebbe it's jest as well. She kin rest now an' sleep content. She's quits with ye.
I slept good--down with the cows. They know how t' sleep. They're teachin' me. EBEN-- suddenly jovial again Good fur the cows! Waal--ye better git t' work. EBEN-- beginning to laugh Ay-eh! I'm bossin' yew. See how ye like it! I'm the prize rooster o' this roost. Like his Maw. Eben then unloads his hate for his father because Eben blames him for his mother's death. He denounces his father saying he is his mother through and through. Eben also reveals his grudge against his half-brothers for not helping or protecting his mother.
He then leaves to visit his local prostitute. As Eben leaves, his brothers remark on how like his father he is. Act 1, Scene 3 Eben comes home late and wakes his brothers.
He informs them that their father has remarried a year-old woman and is on his way home. When Simeon and Peter realize the farm will go to her, they decide to go west. Eben desperately wants the farm because it belonged to his mother and he wishes to honor her memory. They tell him they will think about it, waiting to decide until they see their father's new wife and can see the money in person.
However, as soon as Eben leaves the room, they decide to stop working the farm. Act 1, Scene 4 The brothers reveal to Eben they won't be working on the farm anymore, so Eben goes to milk the cows while Peter and Simeon get drunk.
Eben returns to the house after seeing his father and his new wife on the horizon. Peter and Simeon decide to leave the farm and sign the papers for Eben. They walk outside; taunt their father, Ephraim, and his new wife, Abbie; and then leave for California. Abbie begins to explore the house and runs into Eben. They are both attracted to each other but fight over the future possession of the farm. The scene closes with harsh words between Ephraim and Eben. Act 2, Scene 1 This scene takes place outside the farmhouse two months later.
Abbie catches Eben on the way to visit Min, his choice prostitute. She tries to seduce him, but he has only a mind for owning the farm and leaves her. Ephraim enters and is transformed. He is now gentle and is coming around to the idea of Eben owning the farm. Abbie gets upset at possibly losing the farm to Eben and claims he was lusting after her. Ephraim wants to throw Eben off the farm, but Abbie convinces him that Eben is needed to do the farm work. She then suggests they have a son, and Ephraim promises to give her the farm if she does.
Act 2, Scene 2 Ephraim and Abbie sit in their bedroom talking about having a son. Ephraim tells the story of how he made the farm when he was only 20 years old and the terrible loneliness he has experienced with his wives. Abbie has no interest in his story, and he leaves. Abbie then goes to Eben's room and kisses him. He kisses her, but then, confused, pushes her away.I'll tell the Old Man I hain't feelin' pert.
Abbie relaxes with a faint sigh but her eyes remain fixed on the wall; she listens with all her attention for some movement from Eben. It's lust eatin' his heart.
He goes over and joins Cabot, who is arguing noisily with an old farmer over cows. My mind's clear's a well.
EBEN--Ye'd like ridin' better--on a boat, wouldn't ye? It keeps the music fresh and also frees me to tailor the length of music required to t the many timing variables that can happen during a live performance. Act 1, Scene 2 This scene opens at twilight in the kitchen of the farmhouse. ABBIE-- walks up to him--a queer coarse expression of desire in her face and body--slowly An' upstairs--that be my bedroom--an' my bed! But their responses vary sharply: for Ephraim, they represent a path to salvation while for Eben, Simeon, and Peter, the stones are bleak obstacles to a freedom just beyond reach.