Study Guide

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Summary

The curtain rises and reveals a bedroom scene, and we sure hope you like bedrooms, because we never leave this bedroom throughout the entire play. There are no scene changes, only sky changes. What ensues during the first Act is a series of conversations between Margaret (Maggie) and Brick Pollitt, a young married couple who have come to visit Brick's parents on the family cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta. Intermittently, we hear the ear-piercing screams and singing of some of the most annoying children in all of literature. These kids belong to Brick's brother and sister in-law, Gooper and Mae Pollitt.

Everybody is cozying up in the family mansion to celebrate Big Daddy Pollitt's 65th birthday. Not long into Act I, we discover Big Daddy has been sick, however, and that he and his wife, who is known as Big Mama (we're not making this up), have been informed that his sickness is due merely to a spastic colon. Maggie, Gooper, and Mae know, however, that Big Daddy is actually sick with malignant cancer and that he is dying. They are planning on letting him know later that night, right after he blows out the candles. Ah, good times.

During this first act, we are mainly focused on Maggie and Brick's chatting. Scratch that. We mainly watch Maggie talk to Brick. You see, Brick isn't the biggest fan of Maggie, to put it mildly. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and also in Maggie and Brick's marriage. We don't get all the facts in this first Act, but we learn that Brick broke his ankle the night before while attempting to jump hurdles at his old high school (while drunk). Maggie brings up a man named Skipper, whom we discover is Brick's best friend who recently died. They have a heated discussion about how Skipper died and about the nature of Brick and Skipper's love. Maggie tries to get Brick to talk about Skipper and their love, but Brick gets angry. Brick's sister-in-law, Mae, comes in briefly and Maggie and Mae get into a scuffle. Brick looks for the click of peacefulness that comes to him when he has had enough to drink.

Big Mama stops by to clean up, to fawn over her baby boy, and to tell Brick that Big Daddy doesn't have cancer. She asks Maggie why she is childless and tells her that the roots of all marriage problems lie in the bedroom. Aha! Clue number one. How convenient that we are in a bedroom.

When Big Mama leaves, Maggie talks to Brick about their sex life, or lack thereof, and we learn about the condition of their marriage: Brick will stay with Maggie as long as she doesn't try to sleep with him. The Act ends with a no-neck monster bursting into the room and pointing a pretend pistol at Maggie, shouting "bang, bang, bang!" When the monster leaves, Maggie tells Brick she is able to conceive, and Brick asks Maggie how she plans to have a baby by a man that can't stand her. Ouch.

No time has lapsed as we begin Act II. In this Act, the doggy doodoo really does hit the fan, if you pardon our faux-French. Because of Brick's ankle injury, everybody comes to Brick and Maggie's room to celebrate Big Daddy's birthday party. By everybody, we mean Brick, Maggie, Big Daddy, Big Mama, Mae, Gooper, the five kids, the Reverend, and the family doctor, Doc Baugh. Throughout this act, people move between the bedroom and the gallery (read: veranda) outside, where they watch fireworks exploding and enjoy the cool Delta breeze.

The beating heart of this Act is the long conversation that takes place between Big Daddy and Brick. Alone in the bedroom, Big Daddy attempts to have a conversation with Brick. They discuss everything from Big Daddy's newfound appreciation for life after discovering his ailment is merely a spastic colon, to uncovering the source of Brick's urge to drink as heavily as he does. The conversation doesn't go anywhere at first, as, we learn, their conversations never really do. Big Daddy philosophizes about wealth and the pursuit of happiness. He tells Brick about a trip he and Big Mama took to Europe one year and the corruption that he found there. All the while, Brick continues to search for the click. However, Big Daddy is determined to find the source of Brick's discontent.

Brick tells Big Daddy he is disgusted with the mendacity in the world. Woah. That's a big word. Hold on while we look up mendacity in the dictionary. OK got it. Mendacity=lying. Big Daddy probes further and we finally hear the story of Skipper from Brick's perspective. Brick tells Big Daddy that when Maggie became jealous of his friendship with Skipper, she planted the seed in Skipper's mind that he was in love with Brick. Skipper took to the bottle, and, before he died, confessed his love for Brick over the phone.

Brick becomes volcanic with emotion as he tells Big Daddy this deepest secret. In the spirit of telling truths and stirring up ghosts, Brick tells Big Daddy the truth of his medical condition: he is dying of malignant liver cancer. As soon as he tells this truth, Brick regrets having done so. He urges Big Daddy to join the festivities outside, but it is too late. Big Daddy is devastated by the news that he's dying and leaves the room.

Again, no time has lapsed as we move into Act III. Everyone comes back into the bedroom and wonders where Big Daddy has gone. The tone of the party sobers (but Brick doesn't) as Gooper and Mae gather everyone for a family conference. Brick leaves to drink outside and to sing to the moon. Slowly, Gooper and Mae begin to tell Big Mama the news of Big Daddy's sickness. Big Mama is distraught and is in denial at first. She wants Brick to tell her the truth. Gooper and Mae not-so-subtly discuss the inheritance and who will take over the plantation when Big Daddy leaves. Maggie is disgusted by the greed she sees in Gooper and Mae.

A bitter family conflict arises, quelled only by Big Mama taking charge, using language we might expect from Big Daddy, and telling everyone to cool it. She tells Brick that he is Big Daddy's favorite; this sends Gooper and Mae into a tizzy. At the height of all of this, Maggie announces she is pregnant, news that lifts Big Mama's spirits. Big Mama runs to tell Big Daddy. Gooper and Mae leave the bedroom hissing like, well, cats. We hear occasional moans of anguish coming from Big Daddy, emanating from another room in the house.

Maggie turns out the lights and disposes of all of the alcohol in the room while Brick drinks on the gallery. When he returns, Maggie tells him that she has gotten rid of the alcohol and that she will give him a drink only after he agrees to sleep with her. The curtain falls as Maggie tells Brick she loves him, and Brick simply says, "Wouldn't it be funny if that were true?" And they all live happily ever after. The End.

  • Act I

    • The curtain rises, and a pretty young woman walks on stage.
    • We are in a bedroom of the Pollitt mansion, which is on a cotton plantation in Mississippi, and a scary place haunted by ghosts.
    • The young woman, Margaret, begins undressing because "the no-neck monsters," or her five nieces and nephews, have spilled something on her dress.
    • She relays the story to her husband, Brick, who has just gotten out of the shower.
    • Maggie, as Brick likes to call her, goes into greater detail about the no-neck monsters. She says that their parents, Brick's brother and sister-in-law, have brought all five of them to the family plantation to show them off to Big Daddy and Big Mama (Brick's parents) in the hopes that their family will appear to be more promising inheritors of Big Daddy's land and wealth than Brick and Maggie, who are childless. Or so Brick's brother hopes…
    • Maggie tells Brick that a report has come today from Big Daddy's doctor confirming that Big Daddy has cancer. She insinuates that Brick's brother and sister-in-law, Gooper and Mae Pollitt, are out to proclaim Brick an alcoholic and Maggie a barren woman who cannot satisfy her husband. Ouch.
    • She blames Brick for ruining their chances of getting a piece of the inheritance through his drinking and reckless behavior.
    • We learn that Brick was out the night before jumping hurdles on his old high school track field while drunk and broke his ankle.
    • Maggie surmises, however, that nothing can shake Big Daddy's love of Brick, and describes how Big Daddy can't stand the grandchildren.
    • Maggie goes on and on about the no-neck monsters, and about Mae Pollitt's family background.
    • She is practically talking to herself, until she catches Brick looking at her funny.
    • She asks him what he thinks of when he looks at her like that, because she's caught him looking at her like that before.
    • She tells him that living with someone can be the loneliest thing on the planet, and he asks her if she would like to live alone.
    • This startles Maggie, so she does what she does best: she keeps talking.
    • She talks about how handsome Brick is, and then she drops the bomb. She says the "s" word. No, not that word. She brings up Skipper.
    • This makes Brick very quiet, and we feel a little awkward too, especially because we don't know who Skipper is.
    • So Maggie keeps on talking about what a good, but indifferent, lover Brick used to be (OK…now we feel really awkward), and about how she feels like she is a cat on a hot tin roof, just trying to stay on.
    • She tries to get Brick to talk about the memory of Skipper, but he just replies by pouring himself more drinks. He tells her he's waiting for the "click of peacefulness" to come into his mind.
    • Maggie reminds him it's Big Daddy's birthday and asks him to sign a card for a present she bought for Big Daddy.
    • Brick says he won't.
    • She coaxes him further, and then Brick brings up the "conditions" of their marriage.
    • Before we can learn more about these conditions, Mae Pollitt asks to come into their room.
    • What follows is catty banter between the two women, in which Mae asks Maggie to put her archery trophy away so that the kiddies don't get hurt.
    • Maggie asks Mae why she gave all of her children dogs' names. Fightin' words!
    • Then Mae returns to the no-neck monsters, who are performing for their grandparents downstairs.
    • Maggie asks Brick to get dressed for the party, and he says he'll wear his white silk pajamas.
    • Then Maggie gets emotional again and the "conditions" are brought up again.
    • She tells him again she feels like a cat on a hot tin roof, and Brick tells her to jump off the roof then, since cats do it all the time with their creepy limber cat legs.
    • Speaking of limber legs, he tells her to take a lover, and that's when we realize what the "conditions" are. Brick has agreed to stay married to Maggie as long as they don't have sex, and Maggie is going crazy with lust. The hot tin roof must be their marriage, and Maggie is the cat. Maggie the Cat.
    • Then Maggie locks the door, closes the drapes, and begins to rub up on Brick, who breaks away from her and raises a chair like he's going to strike her (but it looks to us from the audience like a lion-tamer taming a lion).
    • Next thing we know, Big Mama is at the door trying to get in.
    • She is complaining about the locked doors, because she hates locked doors. She demands to be let in.
    • Maggie lets her in, while Brick makes a bee-line for the bathroom.
    • Big Mama in the meantime has snuck around to the gallery through another bedroom and enters the room that way.
    • She asks Maggie why she's changed her dress, and when Maggie explains that it's because of the no-neck monsters, Big Mama tells her she must not like children.
    • Au contraire, Maggie rebuts.
    • Big Mama tells her that she should have some babies then.
    • Gooper intercepts from downstairs to tell Big Mama that the guests are leaving.
    • Big Mama tells them to hold their horses.
    • She then talks to Brick through the closed bathroom door, telling him that the full report about Big Daddy's sickness came from the doctor today and that nothing is wrong with him, except that he has a spastic colon (also known as irritable bowel syndrome).
    • She tells Brick and Maggie that she was so happy when she got the news that she fell on her knees and bruised them, which she shows us too by pulling up her skirt.
    • More commotion from downstairs as people are leaving.
    • Big Mama shouts down to Gooper to continue holding the aforementioned horses.
    • She tells Brick to get dressed because everyone will be coming up to his room, on account of his broken ankle, to celebrate Big Daddy's birthday.
    • Big Mama asks Maggie how Brick's ankle is doing, and Maggie tells her she'll have to ask Brick herself.
    • The phone rings in the hall, and Big Mama rushes out to tell Miss Sally of Memphis that Big Daddy simply has a spastic colon.
    • She can't hear Miss Sally very well, so she asks Maggie to come speak to Miss Sally.
    • Maggie does, speaking very slowly, loudly, and carefully, and hanging up before Miss Sally has finished the conversation.
    • Maggie explains that she used to have a deaf aunt and got good at enunciating so that her aunt would understand her. But when this certain aunt died, magazine subscriptions were all Maggie inherited.
    • Meanwhile, Big Mama is straightening up the room for the party and commenting on the fact that Miss Sally is always out for something.
    • Then she asks Maggie through hand gestures whether Brick has been drinking, but Maggie pretends not to understand her.
    • Then Big Mama tells her that some people stop drinking when they get married and others start drinking when they get married.
    • Maggie protests this as an unfair claim, and Big Mama asks her whether she makes Brick happy in bed.
    • Maggie retorts by asking Big Mama why she's not interested in knowing whether Brick makes her happy in bed.
    • Big Mama proclaims that something's not right since Maggie is childless and Brick is an alcoholic.
    • She points to the bed, saying that it's the place where all marriage trouble begins.
    • She quickly exits the room before Maggie can refute this claim. Maggie then catches a glimpse of herself in the oval mirror and asks herself, "Who are you?" (I.740); she then replies, "I am Maggie the Cat!" (I.743).
    • Brick comes out of the bathroom once the coast is clear and goes straight for the liquor cabinet.
    • Maggie brings up their sex life again, and tells him that she's maintaining her good looks in the hopes that they'll one day get it on once more.
    • She then starts to enumerate the ways in which her body has stayed young and attractive, and she tells Brick that other men still want her.
    • She says that last week in Memphis, she was turning heads everywhere she went.
    • At her friend Alice's party, the handsomest man in the crowd followed her into the powder room and wanted to get busy right then and there.
    • Brick just asks her why she didn't let the man have his way with her.
    • Maggie says she wouldn't be so stupid as to take a lover in such a public place; that if she were to take a lover, it would be in a really private place so that no one could convict her of being unfaithful.
    • Brick then tells her that he'd be relieved if she did take a lover.
    • He suggests that she leave him.
    • But Maggie really doesn't like that idea, and tells Brick that he wouldn't have the money to pay for a divorce and would have to borrow from Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer.
    • This reminds Brick of how Big Mama reported that Big Daddy's ailment was simply a spastic colon.
    • Maggie confirms that they've been keeping the truth of Big Daddy's cancer from both Big Daddy and Big Mama, and that they will all be telling her about it that evening.
    • Brick asks why they've been keeping it from them, and Maggie responds that it's because humans want life everlasting on earth and not in heaven.
    • Then she re-summarizes that Gooper, Mae, and the no-neck monsters are here to bring Daddy his bad news and to secure their share of the inheritance, because, as it happens, Big Daddy has made no will.
    • She then tells Brick that she really admires Big Daddy, in spite of all of his ogre-like behavior, because he managed to turn his cotton plantation into the biggest and finest in the Mississippi Delta.
    • Then she says that she's sorry Big Daddy's dying, but that she also has to stake her claim in his fortune.
    • Taking care of a drunk is an expensive task, and that's the task she's been elected to, she says.
    • Brick says she doesn't have to take care of him.
    • Maggie then launches into a story of her past and her background, telling us that she's been poor all of her life. She tells us she had to suck up to rich relatives as a young girl and that her father drank all of their money away, while her mother tried to maintain some semblance of social propriety. Maggie made her debut into society in a hand-me-down and in a dress her mother had made. She married Brick in her grandmother's wedding dress.
    • She explains that all of these experiences have made her into a cat on a hot tin roof, staying in her marriage despite the discomfort.
    • She's a survivor, she's not gonna give up, she's not gonna stop, she's gonna work harder (thank you, Beyonce).
    • At this point, Brick has moved to the gallery to drink his Echo Spring, and Maggie wonders what to do with herself now that she's all dressed again (apparently she's been putting on clothes and stuff throughout this act).
    • She tells Brick that she knows when she made her mistake: it was when she confessed the "truth" to Brick about her "thing" with Skipper.
    • This gets Brick riled up.
    • He tells her to shut up about Skipper, that she's treading dangerous waters.
    • He tells her she's fooling with something no one should fool with. We're a little in the dark about all this Skipper stuff. For the love of Pete, will SOMEONE spill the beans? What happened with Skipper?
    • Finally, Maggie spills the beans. She tells Brick she has to finish what she started telling him, and tells him that she slept with Skipper. Whaaat?!
    • She says that sleeping together made them both feel a little bit closer to Brick.
    • She accuses Brick of asking too much of all the people that love him, of which there are many, she assures him.
    • Brick tells her that Skipper had already confessed.
    • Maggie asserts that she told him first.
    • Brick gets very frustrated with the banter and shouts to one of the no-neck monsters to tell everyone to come up to the room for the birthday party.
    • Maggie exclaims that the truth has got to be told, and that she understands that it was a beautiful and pure love that could never be carried through to anything, a love that could never be talked about. At this point, we're not quite sure which love she's referring to, but we're pretty sure she's talking about the love that existed between Brick and Skipper.
    • She then pleads with Brick that life should be allowed to continue, even after the dreams are dead and gone. Then she reminisces over college days when they used to double-date with Skipper and his girlfriend, Gladys Fitzgerald.
    • She describes it as more of a date between Brick and Skipper, with the girls just tagging along for the sake of social propriety.
    • At this point, Brick is really mad, and he is about to hit Maggie with his crutch.
    • Maggie doesn't care.
    • Brick accuses her of naming his relationship with Skipper dirty.
    • Maggie retorts that, in fact, she is naming it clean.
    • She says that he and Skipper had something that had to be kept under wraps, and that death was the only place where that would happen.
    • Then Brick feebly asks why he would have married Maggie in the first place if he were (he doesn't finish his sentence here, but we assume he means to say…) gay.
    • She then tells the story of the downward spiral following their wedding.
    • Here's her story: They get married early in the summer, right after graduating from Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi). They are really happy newlyweds throughout that summer, knocking boots and shaking the sheets like crazy.
    • Then, in the fall, Brick and Skipper turn down job offers in order to play professional football together.
    • Then Skipper starts drinking too much, and Brick injures his spinal cord.
    • Brick can't play the Thanksgiving game in Chicago, so he watches it from a hospital bed.
    • The team loses the game because Skipper is drunk.
    • Maggie is there watching the game.
    • She and Skipper go drink that night at a local bar until the sun comes up.
    • When they are drunk, Maggie tells Skipper that he has to either stop loving her husband or tell Brick that he's got to let him (Skipper) admit his love for Brick.
    • Skipper slaps her hard and runs back to his hotel room.
    • That night, she goes to his hotel room, and Skipper sleeps with her in order to prove that what she's suggested isn't true.
    • Despite this, the truth that Maggie had spoken that morning sends Skipper down a deadly path of drugs and alcohol.
    • This ends Maggie's story.
    • At this point, Brick is really upset and raises his crutch at her again.
    • She admits then that she destroyed Skipper by verbalizing a truth that he and society would never recognize or condone.
    • As Brick strikes at her and misses with his crutch, she clarifies that she is not trying to be good, that there is no such thing as a good person.
    • She says the rich can afford to keep up a semblance and a lifestyle of good, but that goodness doesn't exist. She proclaims herself honest.
    • She asks Brick to credit her with honesty, at least.
    • She tells him that though Skipper is dead, she is alive.
    • As she says this, Brick throws his deadly crutch at her again, the force of which makes him fall across the floor. She takes cover behind the bed.
    • In the heat of the moment, one of the no-neck monsters bursts through the unlocked bedroom door and shoots a toy gun at Maggie and Brick, shouting "Bang, bang, bang!" Talk about annoying.
    • From the open door, we hear laughter from the family and guests below. Maggie tells the little girl that someone should teach her some manners.
    • The little girl asks what Brick is doing on the floor.
    • Brick replies that he's trying to kill her aunt, and to please pass him his crutch.
    • Maggie explains to the little girl that her uncle is crippled and broke his ankle while jumping hurdles the night before.
    • The little girl asks why Brick was hurdling, and Brick responds that he used to love jumping hurdles and people like to do what they used to do, even if they can no longer do it. There is subtext here, but we're not quite sure what it is.
    • Maggie is annoyed with the little girl's questions. She calls her "little girl," instead of by name.
    • She tells Little Girl to go away, and Little Girl starts shooting her toy gun at Maggie.
    • Maggie calls her a no-neck monster – to her face!
    • Then the little girl really steps in it. She tells her aunt that she knows she's just jealous because she can't have babies. Of all the insults in the world, Little Girl, and you choose that one? You are a little twerp. Wait, are we defending Maggie? Do we like Maggie? Whoa.
    • Once Twerp leaves, Maggie tells Brick that she's been to a gynecologist and that she is perfectly capable of having babies.
    • Brick asks her how she is going to have a baby by a man that can't stand her. Touché. The man does have point. Ouch.
    • Maggie just says that's a problem she'll have to work out, and then she turns to greet the encroaching birthday party.
    • Act I ends. Wow. We need a vacation.
  • Act II

    • Welcome to Act II and get ready for some serious fireworks. You'll be happy to know that no time has passed since the end of Act I, so feel free to refresh yourself on that image of marital bliss with which we ended Act I.
    • Big Daddy enters the room first.
    • The rest of the party enters the room via all manner of doorways, windows, and floorboards.
    • The Reverend is talking about how beautiful the stained-glass windows are in Saint Paul's in Grenada.
    • Then they start talking about how the Reverend's church needs air conditioning. It is beginning to seem a little fishy how much this Reverend keeps talking about things other churches have that his doesn't.
    • Big Daddy catches on too and asks whether the Reverend's expecting someone to die and leave a sum of money. Awkward. The Reverend laughs it off.
    • Enter Doctor "Doc" Baugh who is being accosted by Mae Pollitt asking questions about shots and things.
    • Brick is nursing his drink, as Mr. Williams, in a stage direction, likens this scene to "a great aviary of chattering birds." We agree.
    • Maggie asks Brick to turn on some music, but he's in Echo Spring land, so she turns on some Wagnerian opera.
    • Big Daddy screams to turn it off.
    • Enter Big Mama screaming for her precious baby boy.
    • Big Daddy asks for someone to turn the music back on.
    • Everyone is laughing very loudly.
    • Big Daddy is making jokes at Big Mama's expense, but she doesn't care because she is celebrating the false report on his cancer.
    • Big Mama tells Brick to put his drink down, and he obeys, chugging his Echo Spring.
    • Big Mama continues to fawn and fuss over him until Brick turns on the TV.
    • Big Mama keeps talking really loudly, and Big Daddy gets more and more annoyed.
    • Big Mama asks for the Reverend's help in getting out of her chair; he obliges, and then she pulls him into her lap. She even says, "Ever seen a preacher in a fat lady's lap?" This play is unreal!
    • Mr. Williams interjects here with a lengthy footnote explaining that Big Mama is notorious in these parts for her naughty behavior. Gooper and Mae hate this behavior because they think it's keeping them from the better circles of society.
    • The maids, referred to in the stage direction as "the Negroes," pop their heads in every few seconds waiting for the cue to bring in Big Daddy's cake.
    • Big Daddy continues to puzzle over the pain in his gut, even though he's been told he's cancer-free.
    • Big Daddy yells at Big Mama to "quit horsin'," and tells everyone what her blood pressure was last spring (200, if you were curious).
    • "Negroes with white jackets" bring in the monster cake and buckets of champagne with ribbons around the bottle-necks.
    • Mae and Gooper start singing and everyone joins except Brick.
    • Mae starts organizing the kiddies center stage so that they can give a rousing performance of the age-old children's song "Skinamarinka—dinka—do."
    • Big Mama bursts into tears. So do we. But not tears of joy.
    • Big Daddy oh-so-tactfully asks her what's wrong.
    • Big Mama replies that she's crying tears of happiness over Big Daddy's news.
    • She almost puts her foot in her mouth, talking about what would happen if Daddy were to die.
    • Maggie interrupts, suggesting that Brick give Big Daddy his birthday present and handing the present to Big Daddy.
    • Gooper and Mae ask Brick what it is, placing bets that he has no idea.
    • Big Daddy tells Big Mama to open the present herself.
    • Big Daddy says he wants to ask Brick a question.
    • Brick doesn't heed Big Daddy's question, even when Maggie tells him to.
    • Maggie opens Big Daddy's present and acts surprised when she discovers it's a cashmere robe.
    • Mae asks her why she looks so surprised when she was the one who bought the robe.
    • Maggie turns on Mae, explaining that her family never had things like cashmere robes when she was growing up.
    • Maggie and Mae get into a little cat-fight, during which Mae explains how she knows Maggie bought the sweater.
    • Maggie tells her she'd be an excellent FBI agent.
    • Big Daddy tells everyone to shut up.
    • Everybody does, except for the Reverend, who is a little slow on the uptake.
    • Big Daddy asks him if he's butting in on any more discussions of stained glass windows.
    • Big Mama tells Big Daddy not to pick on the Reverend.
    • Mae comments on the mosquitoes and wonders if they'd eat everyone alive if they were to all go outside and hang out in the gallery.
    • Big Daddy says if the mosquitoes did eat her alive, he'd have her bones pulverized for fertilizer. No, seriously.
    • Big Daddy then asks whether it's true that Brick was jumping hurdles at the high school the night before.
    • Brick is in Echo Spring land and doesn't quite hear Big Daddy's question.
    • Big Daddy repeats his question, and Brick coolly responds, "That's what they told me."
    • Big Daddy then tries to split some hairs, and wants to know whether Brick was "jumping or humping" the night before.
    • Big Mama tries to chastise Big Daddy for his naughty insinuations, but Big Daddy just responds with his favorite word in the entire English language: "Quiet!"
    • Big Daddy continues the investigation by asking Brick whether he "was cuttin' you'self a piece o' poon-tang last night on that cinder track?" (Would we make this up? See for yourself!)
    • Everyone laughs a little awkwardly.
    • Big Mama stamps her foot.
    • Brick meets his dad's gaze and says he doesn't think so.
    • Mae takes the Reverend for a walk.
    • Big Daddy continues his investigation once more, asking Brick what he was doing at the high school track field at three o'clock in the morning.
    • Brick tells his father that he was jumping hurdles. The high hurdles, he says, are too high for him now.
    • Big Daddy asks if his drunkenness prevented him from being able to jump the high hurdles.
    • Brick responds he wouldn't be able to jump the low hurdles if he were sober.
    • Big Mama tries to shake up the hurdle talk by encouraging Big Daddy to blow out his candles.
    • Maggie starts to propose a toast.
    • Big Daddy just yells at everyone with his favorite word again, but this time with a bit more fury.
    • Big Mama says she won't allow Big Daddy to talk that way.
    • Big Daddy reminds her it's his birthday and he can talk any darn way he wants to.
    • Big Mama tells him that she knows he doesn't mean it.
    • Everyone else starts to exchange secret glances and to move toward the gallery, leaving Big Daddy and Big Mama alone.
    • Big Daddy tells her that she doesn't know anything. Big Daddy tells her he's put up with everyone because he thought he was dying. He tells her sees right through Big Mama's ways, sees that she's trying to take over the family.
    • Then Big Daddy launches into a monologue in which he describes his life's story.
    • This is his story: He was first the overseer of the plantation. He quit school when he was ten, worked in the fields, and then rose to become an overseer at this very plantation once run by Straw and Ochello. When Straw died, he became Ochello's business partner, and the place got bigger and bigger, and bigger and bigger.
    • Then Big Daddy ends his story, and he continues to berate Big Mama for thinking she could take over and take control on his deathbed.
    • He tells Big Mama he's been through all the medical tests, and that all he has is a spastic colon, made spastic by all the lies and liars he has to put up with.
    • Big Daddy basically calls their marriage a 40-year hypocrisy, and then tells Big Mama to blow out the candles.
    • Big Mama is beside herself with sobbing and hollering and asks him if for all these years he has never believed that she loved him.
    • She tells him how much she has loved him.
    • She walks out of the bedroom and onto the gallery.
    • Big Daddy is alone and just says, "wouldn't it be funny if that was true…."
    • Meanwhile, fireworks are going off outside. No, for real. Fireworks are lighting the sky up outside.
    • Big Daddy calls after Brick while he stands over his blazing birthday cake.
    • Brick hobbles in on his crutches, with Maggie following him.
    • Maggie tells Big Daddy she's delivering Brick to him; she kisses Brick, who then wipes the kiss off with the back of his hand.
    • Big Daddy asks Brick why he wiped the kiss off with the back of his hand.
    • Brick says he wasn't conscious of it.
    • Big Daddy tells Brick that Maggie has a nicer body than Mae, but that they have the same look about them.
    • Brick adds that it's not such a peaceful look.
    • Big Daddy agrees.
    • Brick says that they look nervous as cats on a hot tin roof. (Ding ding ding ding! Title alert! Title alert!)
    • Big Daddy definitely agrees, and wonders why he and Gooper would choose the same kind of woman.
    • Brick says that they both married into society.
    • Big Daddy wonders what gives them that catty look.
    • Brick attributes it to the fact that they're sitting in the middle of a big piece of land and they each want a piece for themselves.
    • Brick tells him to just let the two women scratch their eyes out.
    • Big Daddy says that's exactly what he's going to do, but concedes that Mae is "a good breeder."
    • Big Daddy tells Brick he doesn't know how you can start with a piece of land, how things keep growing and accumulating on it until it is out of hand. There's talk of how it's like a vacuum of hell.
    • Big Daddy feels like someone is eavesdropping at the door and thinks it's Gooper.
    • Mae appears in the gallery door.
    • Big Daddy begins to chastise her from here to Sunday, telling her he's going to have her and Gooper moved from the bedroom next to Brick and Maggie's so that they'll stop eavesdropping and tattle-taling on Brick and Maggie all the time.
    • Mae throws her arms up to the heavens, starts to cry, and then leaves.
    • Brick and Big Daddy are alone again and Brick asks him what Gooper and Mae hear when they eavesdrop on him and Maggie.
    • Big Daddy tells him that they know that Brick doesn't sleep with Maggie, that he sleeps on the couch. He asks if this is really true, and tells Brick to just get rid of Maggie and find another woman if it is true.
    • Brick doesn't respond but freshens up his Echo Spring.
    • Big Daddy tells him he has a real alcohol problem and asks Brick if that's why he quit his job as a sports announcer. He tells him that life is too important to waste on drinking.
    • Big Daddy asks Brick to come sit down next to him, which Brick does. He asks Brick to tell him why he quit his sports announcer job.
    • Brick tells him he felt like he had a mouth full of cotton and was always three beats behind what was happening on the field.
    • Big Daddy gets a little lightheaded from his cigar.
    • The clock chimes ten times.
    • Brick sinks down comfortably into the couch.
    • Big Daddy sits up an anxiously begins to tell the story of how and when he and Big Mama got the clock.
    • This is Big Daddy's story:
    • Big Daddy had the worst time possible on the trip to Europe he took with Big Mama one summer.
    • Big Mama bought lots and lots of stuff on the trip, most of which is now in crates in the basement.
    • Big Daddy describes Europe as one big auction full of "old worn-out places."
    • He says it's lucky he is such a rich man, and asks Brick how much money he thinks he has.
    • Big Daddy tells Brick he has close to ten million dollars in cash and blue-chip stocks, not to mention 28,000 acres of rich farmland. This is the 1950s. That's the equivalent of something like ten bajillian dollars.
    • Fireworks go off outside again.
    • Big Daddy tells Brick that life is the one thing money cannot buy.
    • He soberly tells Brick that he's wiser and sadder for having momentarily lived with knowledge that his goose was cooked.
    • Big Daddy goes on recounting the story of the trip to Europe.
    • He describes the barefoot children in Europe begging for money. He describes how fat the priests are in Spain, and how he gave away money to the skinny, starving children like scattering feed corn for chickens.
    • Big Daddy then moves on to tell Brick about the prostitution he encountered in Morocco.
    • He's having a cigar in Marrakech one day and a woman stands before him, staring at him so intensely that he gets embarrassed.
    • She then pushes her little girl at him. The little girl walks toward Big Daddy, barely able to walk, and tries to unbutton his pants.
    • Big Daddy ends his account, and is thoroughly disturbed by the memories.
    • Brick tells his father he's talking "jag."
    • Big Daddy sums it all up, saying that the human animal is a beast that dies, and dying does not make a human compassionate.
    • Brick asks his father to hand him his crutch so that he can get some more Echo Spring.
    • Big Daddy obliges, and continues to wax philosophical.
    • He says he thinks the reason why people buy and buy and buy is that humans hope that one day they can buy life everlasting.
    • Brick comments on how chatty Big Daddy is being tonight.
    • Big Daddy explains that he's been quiet as of late, and, because he's had a weight lifted, he's feeling the need to talk.
    • Brick then says that what he would like to hear most is perfect quiet, because it's more peaceful. He asks Big Daddy if he is finished talking to him.
    • Big Daddy asks why Brick is so intent on shutting him up.
    • Brick retorts that every so often Big Daddy will ask to speak to him, as he did this night, but then nothing happens. Brick says that their conversations are empty and nothing is said. Communication, he says, is hard between them.
    • Big Daddy then asks if Brick has ever been scared before.
    • Big Daddy gets up from the sofa and closes the door to the gallery, like he going to share a deep secret with Brick.
    • Big Daddy tells Brick that he really thought that he had cancer.
    • Brick comments that Big Daddy was quiet about it.
    • Big Daddy responds that a real man "keeps a tight mouth" about such things. He muses that humans are the only animal that is conscious of mortality.
    • Big Daddy asks Brick if a whiskey high ball would help his spastic colon.
    • Brick says it would indeed.
    • Big Daddy feels like the skies are open again.
    • He tells Brick he feels like he can breathe now, after spending his whole life like a doubled-up fist, smashing and pounding things.
    • Big Daddy tells Brick he's thinking about women and about sleeping with women.
    • Brick remarks how admirable that is.
    • Big Daddy has had many chances to sleep with other women in the past that he's turned down due to his scruples, but he is no longer going to heed those scruples.
    • Big Daddy talks about his sex life with Big Mama.
    • The phone rings in the hallway. Phew! Thank goodness. Saved by the bell.
    • Big Mama enters the room to get to the phone.
    • Big Daddy asks her why she has to cross through this room when there are five other rooms through which she could travel to get to the phone.
    • Big Daddy tells a joke about Big Mama and doubles over in laughter.
    • Brick walks toward the verandah.
    • Big Daddy tells him to come back to finish their conversation, which, according to him, has not even begun.
    • He tells Brick to turn on the ceiling fan.
    • Big Mama's voice is heard in the hallway; she's talking on the phone to Miss Sally, Big Daddy's sister.
    • Big Mama tries to reenter the bedroom talking loudly about Miss Sally, and Big Daddy covers his ears.
    • Big Daddy holds the door against Big Mama so that she can't come in.
    • Big Mama starts complaining again about the mean things Big Daddy said about her before.
    • Big Daddy successfully shuts the door on her.
    • Big Daddy then starts talking about his sex life again with Big Mama (and we cover our ears this time). He vividly tells Brick about his intentions to get a mistress. Vividly.
    • Big Daddy is laughing so much that Mae and Gooper call to him from the verandah.
    • Big Daddy cries a little as he tells Brick that he is truly happy. He even hugs Brick a little.
    • Brick sighs and tries to get up from the couch.
    • Big Daddy asks him why he is so restless.
    • Brick tells him he's waiting for the click.
    • Big Daddy asks what this is.
    • Brick tells him it is a click of peacefulness. This disturbs Big Daddy.
    • Brick describes the click further as a being like a hot light turning off in his head, and the cool night turning on.
    • Big Daddy whistles with astonishment and tells Brick he didn't realize he was a full-fledged alcoholic.
    • Brick freshens his drink as he tells Big Daddy that it's taking longer for the click to arrive today.
    • Big Daddy says that his recent stint with death made him blind to his own son's alcoholism.
    • Brick excuses himself and says that he will go sit by himself in order to expedite the clickage.
    • Big Daddy tells Brick the conversation is not over and will only be over when he says it is over.
    • Brick comments that this conversation is like all others that they have had before; it goes nowhere. Kind of like how Maggie's foreplay with Brick goes nowhere.
    • Big Daddy grabs the crutch from Brick and throws it across the room so that he can't get to it and so that he is forced to stay in his seat.
    • Brick says he could hop on one foot to get the crutch himself.
    • Big Daddy tells him he's going to straighten him out, just like he's been straightened out by his brush with death.
    • Big Daddy starts talking about his spastic colon again.
    • A little girl bursts into the room with a sparkler and is shrieking.
    • Big Daddy strikes at her.
    • She leaves.
    • Big Daddy continues to express the relief he felt upon discovering he wasn't going to die.
    • Laughter, the sound of running footsteps, and rockets exploding are heard outside.
    • Brick gets up from his seat suddenly, hops across the room, grabs his crutch, and tries to leave the room.
    • Big Daddy catches him by his shirt sleeve and tells him to stay right where he is.
    • Brick repeats his argument that their conversations never amount to anything.
    • Big Daddy repeats that they have plenty to talk about, since he's seen the face of death and has discovered he's going to live.
    • Brick tells him he's "all balled up."
    • Big Daddy tells him he's the boss and that he's going to rip off his coat sleeve if he doesn't sit down.
    • Big Mama rushes in and says she can't stand the screaming.
    • Big Daddy raises his hand like he's going to strike her.
    • Big Mama rushes back out of the room.
    • Brick breaks free of Big Daddy's grip and rushes toward the gallery.
    • Big Daddy pulls the crutch from under him so that Brick steps on his broken ankle.
    • Brick yelps in pain and demands that Big Daddy give him his crutch.
    • Big Daddy asks Brick why he drinks.
    • Brick says he doesn't know and that he's in pain.
    • Big Daddy strikes a deal with Brick and tells him he'll make him a drink if Brick tells him why he drinks.
    • Brick says he drinks out of disgust.
    • The clock strikes.
    • Brick demands his drink.
    • Big Daddy wants to know what exactly he is disgusted with.
    • Brick demands a drink first.
    • Big Daddy makes him a drink.
    • Brick tells Daddy that he drinks because of mendacity.
    • Children start chanting offstage, "we want Big Dad-dee!"
    • Gooper tries to come into the room to get Big Daddy.
    • Big Daddy tells him to keep out.
    • Big Daddy slams the door after Gooper and asks Brick who has been lying to him.
    • Brick tells him it's not one person, but the "whole thing."
    • Big Daddy launches into a lecture on all the lies he's had to put up with over the years: pretending to care about Big Mama, Gooper, Mae, his grandchildren, church, and the clubs he belongs to.
    • Big Daddy tells Brick he's always genuinely liked him. He tells Brick the only two things he cares about are Brick and being a successful planter. Aw.
    • Big Daddy tells Brick that there isn't anything else to live with besides mendacity. We don't know what this means exactly.
    • Brick begs to differ and says that one can live with alcohol.
    • Big Daddy tells him he's dodging from life.
    • Brick says he wants to dodge from life in order to drink.
    • In exasperation, Big Daddy tells Brick that when he thought he was at Death's door, he considered turning over all of his riches to Brick. He tells Brick he cannot do so if Brick is on the bottle.
    • Brick tells Big Daddy he doesn't care, and invites Big Daddy to look at the fireworks and eat his birthday cake.
    • Brick stands in the doorway as the sky lights up with fireworks.
    • Big Daddy quietly begs Brick to stay and continue the conversation, to not leave it like most of the talks they have in which nothing gets said.
    • Brick tells Big Daddy he's never lied to him.
    • Big Daddy says that makes two.
    • Big Daddy asks whether drinking is the only thing that will kill the disgust.
    • Brick says that a man who drinks is someone who wants to forget that he isn't young or believing any more.
    • Big Daddy wants to know what he means by "believing."
    • Brick asks him if he's ever known a drinking man who could tell him why he drinks.
    • Big Daddy drops the 'S' bomb and says that he thinks Brick drinks because Skipper died.
    • Oh boy.
    • Brick asks him what he's suggesting.
    • Big Daddy tells him that Gooper and Mae told him there was something odd about Brick's relationship with Skipper.
    • Brick tells him he thought that only Maggie perpetrated that suspicion.
    • Mr. Williams interjects here with a lengthy stage note telling us that Brick's detachment is finally shaken. Williams suggests that the mendacity Brick talks about is the fact that his relationship with Skipper had to be disavowed in order for them to seem proper in the eyes of society. Basically, Brick is scared of what society would think of his relationship with Skipper.
    • Mr. Williams continues, saying he doesn't want to capture one man's psychological struggle with this play, but wants to capture the experience of a group of people. Wait, so who's the good guy? Which team are we rooting for again?
    • Brick begins to interrogate Big Daddy, demanding to know who else has been suggesting that his friendship with Skipper was improper.
    • Big Daddy tries to calm him down and begins to tell him about his wild youth when he slept in "hobo jungles" and "flophouses."
    • Brick interprets this storytelling hour as Big Daddy's attempt to tell him he also believes that Brick is "queer."
    • The Reverend comes in at this emotionally charged moment looking for the bathroom.
    • Big Daddy directs him to a bathroom at the other end of the house.
    • Big Daddy comments that it's hard to have a conversation in this house.
    • Big Daddy continues to talk about his wayward past and tells Brick about how Peter Ochello and Jack Straw took him in.
    • Big Daddy says that when Straw died, Ochello stopped eating and died soon after.
    • Brick swears intermittently and says that Skipper is dead, and he has not stopped eating.
    • Big Daddy points out that he has started drinking.
    • Footsteps are heard on the gallery.
    • Brick explodes and asks his father whether he believes he and Skipper did "sodomy – together?"
    • Brick continues to shout questions at Big Daddy, asking him whether he thinks that he and Skipper did dirty things, that they were a pair of dirty men.
    • Big Daddy tries to calm and quiet him down.
    • Brick loses his balance and falls to his knees.
    • He grabs the bed to help himself up.
    • Big Daddy offers his hand to help him up.
    • Brick continues to rant, telling Big Daddy a story from his college days.
    • Here is Brick's story:
    • It was discovered that there was a pledge candidate in his fraternity at Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi, who attempted to do an "unnatural thing."
    • The fraternity brothers ran him out off of campus and out of town.
    • Big Daddy asks where he ended up.
    • Brick says North Africa, last he heard.
    • That ends Brick's story about his college days.
    • Big Daddy tells him he's been farther away than that just recently, upon newly arriving from a world in which he thought he was going to die.
    • Big Daddy tells Brick that the only other thing that can grow on his plantation is tolerance.
    • Brick continues his rant, wondering why a real, true friendship could not exist without being sullied.
    • Brick describes how pure his friendship was with Skipper, explaining that the only physical moments they had were when one put a hand on the other's shoulder or reached out to shake a hand to say goodnight.
    • Big Daddy continues to try to calm him down, saying that no one thinks that their relationship wasn't normal.
    • Brick says that everyone is wrong; that his friendship with Skipper was pure, and, therefore, rare.
    • Big Daddy and Brick stare at each other for a moment.
    • Brick tells him to let the conversation about Skipper go.
    • Big Daddy asks what made Skipper crack.
    • Mr. Williams interjects with a stage direction in which Brick stares at his father and makes the decision to tell him the truth about his medical condition.
    • Brick makes himself another drink, and begins to tell his story. Here it is:
    • According to Brick, Maggie declares that Skipper and Brick went into pro-football because they were too scared to grow up.
    • The summer after they graduate from college, Maggie tells Brick that he has to marry her right away or never at all.
    • Maggie travels with the Dixie Stars football team that fall in order to be with Brick.
    • She is the best fan, wearing bearskin caps and renting hotel ballrooms for the team parties after games.
    • Skipper eventually develops a fever that doctors can't explain.
    • Brick gets injured and watches the football games from his hospital bed.
    • Brick watches Skipper get pulled out of the game for poor play. He watches how Maggie hangs on Skipper's arm.
    • Brick feels that Maggie was jealous of Skipper because she and Brick were never very close.
    • While Brick was in the hospital, Maggie gets close to Skipper and convinces him that there was something more to his relationship with Brick.
    • Skipper sleeps with Maggie to prove it isn't true.
    • Brick ends his story.
    • Big Daddy asks him what details he's leaving out of his story.
    • The phone rings in the hall again.
    • Brick tells Big Daddy he left out the fact that he received a long distance call from Skipper during which Skipper made a drunken confession, and on which Brick hung up.
    • Brick tells Big Daddy this is the last time he ever spoke to Skipper.
    • Big Daddy tells Brick that they have found the lie at the heart of the disgust that drives Brick to drink.
    • Big Daddy describes Brick's disgust as disgust with himself and tells Brick he dug Skippers grave.
    • Brick tells Big Daddy to consider the lie behind the birthday wishes, since everyone knows Big Daddy will not have another birthday.
    • A voice is heard in the hallway talking on the phone and laughing.
    • Brick moves towards the door and suggests that they both go out to the gallery right away.
    • Big Daddy grabs his crutch forcefully, and asks Brick to repeat what he said.
    • Brick tells him he doesn't remember.
    • The sky glows green (seriously) as Big Daddy tells Brick to explain what he has just said.
    • Brick sucks on the ice in his drink and tells Big Daddy to leave the plantation to Mae and Gooper and their children.
    • Big Daddy is perplexed by the suggestion of his dying. He tells Brick he will outlive him.
    • Brick tries to coax him to watch the fireworks.
    • Big Daddy demands to know whether his family is lying to him.
    • Brick grabs his crutch from Big Daddy and moves onto the gallery.
    • Singing is heard.
    • Mae appears, telling Big Daddy the "field hands" are singing for him.
    • Big Daddy calls after Brick.
    • The children mock Big Daddy's voice.
    • Brick returns.
    • Brick apologizes to Big Daddy and says that he doesn't understand why anyone could care about living or dying or anything at all, that is except for whether or not there's alcohol available.
    • He tells him they are friends and must be honest with each other.
    • A child runs in to grab firecrackers and runs out screaming, "Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang."
    • Big Daddy starts to swear at the liars in his family.
    • He slowly leaves the room.
    • The sound of a child being slapped comes from the gallery.
    • The child rushes through the room, bawling.
    • Brick is left motionless on stage and the lights dim.
  • Act III

    • We may have made a bee-line to the concession stand to find us some milk duds, and we may have knocked over a few folks on our way to beat the restroom line, and we may have moved into those three seats in the second row that have been empty throughout the first two acts, but for the Pollitt family, there has been no lapse in time as we begin Act III.
    • Mae and the Reverend enter. Oh, we're in the bedroom again.
    • Mae wonders where Big Daddy is.
    • Big Mama enters woozy from the firecracker smoke, asking for Big Daddy.
    • Big Mama reckons he went to bed.
    • Gooper enters, asking where Big Daddy is.
    • Big Mama re-reckons he went to bed.
    • Gooper says it's a mighty fine time to talk.
    • Big Mama wants to know what exactly needs to be talked about.
    • Maggie appears in the gallery talking to Doc Baugh.
    • We hear Maggie telling Doc Baugh that her ancestors had once had slaves and that they freed their slaves five years before the Civil War began.
    • Mae catches wind and exclaims that Maggie has climbed back into her family tree.
    • Maggie asks where Big Daddy has gone.
    • Mr. Williams interjects with a note to tell us that the actors' pace picks up here with "Great Southern animation."
    • Big Mama tells everyone that Big Daddy was just worked up tonight because he loves the family so much, and that he just needs his rest.
    • The Reverend thinks Big Daddy is remarkable.
    • Big Mama agrees, using his huge appetite as evidence.
    • Gooper hopes he doesn't regret it.
    • Maggie says they had a real country dinner, replete with hoppin' john.
    • (Interlude: We interrupt this program to inform you that Hoppin' John is indeed a famous Southern dish. Hoppin' John is a rice and beans concoction that is traditional throughout Caribbean culture. It consists of black-eyed peas, onions, bacon, and a dash of salt. It is said that by eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day, one ushers in a year of great luck. If one eats Hoppin' John the day after New Year's Day, it is called Skippin' Jenny, and shows great frugality, thus granting even greater luck.)
    • Big Mama informs us that they also had candied yams.
    • Gooper hopes that Big Daddy's dinner doesn't come back to haunt him. He hopes this with "a grim relish."
    • Big Mama wants to know what Gooper said and what he meant by it.
    • Mae interprets for Gooper, telling Big Mama that he hopes Big Daddy doesn't suffer from his meal tonight.
    • Big Mama dismisses their worries, saying that Big Daddy is fit as a fiddle, especially without the burden of knowing he is going to die.
    • Maggie blesses his old sweet soul, "sadly and sweetly."
    • Big Mama wonders where Brick is.
    • Mae tells her he's outside.
    • Gooper adds that he's drinking. What a surprise.
    • Big Mama informs them that, contrary to popular opinion, she is not blind as a bat, and knows that Brick is drinking.
    • Maggie applauds Big Mama. Sarcastic, much?
    • Big Mama talks about how other people drink, have drunk, and will drink all their lives.
    • Maggie has never trusted a man who doesn't drink.
    • Mae informs her that Gooper never drinks.
    • Maggie acts surprised and tells Gooper that she wouldn't have made that comment had she known that he didn't drink…at least not in his presence.
    • Big Mama calls after Brick.
    • Maggie goes to get him from the Gallery so that they can all talk.
    • Big Mama wonders what this mysterious family conference is all about.
    • Awkward silence.
    • Big Mama belches and excuses herself.
    • Big Mama fans herself with the fan suspended around her neck.
    • Maggie calls after Brick.
    • Brick sings to the moon.
    • Big Mama asks Gooper to open the gallery door to let the air circulate.
    • Mae believes it would be best to keep the door shut until their family conference is over.
    • Big Mama asks the Reverend to open the door.
    • The Reverend certainly obliges.
    • Mae is concerned that Big Daddy will hear their conversation.
    • Big Mama swans, which means "to swear." (The verb "to swan" was originally American slang, meaning "to stay." The first time this verb appeared in the dictionary was in 1823.)
    • Big Mama swans that nothing will be said in her house that Big Daddy can't hear too.
    • Gooper starts to spill some beans.
    • Mae pokes him hard in an effort to shut his trap.
    • Gooper glares at Mae.
    • Mae circles him "like a burlesque ballerina," raising her arms and shaking her bracelets. Ah, an FBI agent and a burlesque dancer!
    • Mae exclaims, "A breeze! A breeze!"
    • Reverend believes the Pollitt house to be the coolest house in the Delta. He starts talking about some congregant who had an air conditioner installed in a neighboring church in memory of her husband. Subtle much?
    • Everybody starts talking away again, so that it sounds like a big bird-cage.
    • Gooper sympathizes with the Reverend's hot church and surmises that he sweats a lot in the pulpit.
    • Mae asks Doc Baugh about Vitamin B12 injections.
    • Doc Baugh says that if you are going to get poked with a needle, a needle full of Vitamin B12 is as good as anything else.
    • Big Mama asks Maggie if she's going to bring Brick in.
    • Mae announces that she has a strange and peculiar feeling.
    • Everyone is silent.
    • Big Mama wants to know what feeling that is.
    • Mae replies that she has a feeling Brick said something he shouldn't have said to Big Daddy.
    • Big Mama wants to know what Brick could have said that he shouldn't have said.
    • Gooper starts to tell Big Mama something.
    • Mae interrupts him.
    • Mae rushes up to Big Mama, hugs and kisses her.
    • Big Mama pushes her off.
    • The Reverend's voice is heard in the awkward silence talking about the gold in his chasuble (his priest's outfit) fading to purple.
    • We don't really know what that means.
    • Gooper surmises that the Reverend was preaching "hell's fire" last Sunday.
    • The Reverend is not amused.
    • Big Mama asks Doc Baugh about the Keeley cure and tablets called Annie Bust for heavy drinkers.
    • Brick appears in the doorway followed by Maggie.
    • Unaware that Brick is behind her, Big Mama continues to discuss how Brick is depressed about Skipper's death.
    • Big Mama tells us how Skipper died. This is her story:
    • Skipper is given a dose of sodium amytal at home one day. By whom, we don't know.
    • An ambulance is then called.
    • The doctors give him another dose of sodium amytal.
    • The mixture between the sodium amytal and the alcohol in his blood is too much for his heart.
    • Big Mama ends her story about Skipper's death and talks about her fear of needles.
    • Big Mama stops mid-sentence, then turns around to find Brick standing behind.
    • Ruh-roh.
    • She fawns over Brick and starts to cry.
    • Brick smiles and gestures gallantly for Maggie to pass before him into the room.
    • Brick goes to the bar to pour himself some Echo Spring.
    • Mr. Williams tells us that everyone watches him, "as everybody has always looked at Brick when he spoke or moved or appeared."
    • Brick drops ice cubes in his glass and offers a drink to others in the room.
    • Big Mama wishes he wouldn't drink.
    • Brick wishes he didn't have to, but tells her that he's waiting for the click in his head to smooth things out.
    • Big Mama tells him he breaks her heart.
    • Maggie tells Brick to go sit with Big Mama.
    • Big Mama sobs.
    • Gooper commences the family conferences once more.
    • Maggie tells Brick to go sit next to his mother and to hold her hand.
    • Brick tells Maggie to go sit next to Big Mama, tells her he is a restless cripple and has to stay on his crutch.
    • Brick hobbles to the gallery door and leans there like he's waiting for something.
    • Mae sits with Big Mama while Gooper sits on the edge of the sofa and takes center stage.
    • Doc Baugh lights a cigar.
    • Maggie turns away.
    • Big Mama wants to know why everyone is surrounding her and making signs at each other.
    • Mae tells Big Mama to calm herself.
    • Big Mama tells Mae to calm her own self, and asks her how she is supposed to be calm when everyone is looking at her like she has blood on her face. She wants to know what is going on.
    • Gooper coughs.
    • Gooper gives Doc Baugh a cue.
    • Mae gives Doc Baugh a cue.
    • Brick shushes everyone suddenly.
    • Brick laughs, shakes his head, and informs everyone that he thought he'd heard the click, but it was a false alarm. Faux clickage.
    • Gooper tells him to either shut up or stay on the gallery, because they have a serious matter to talk about with Big Mama and the report on Big Daddy's condition.
    • Doc Baugh begins to speak.
    • Big Mama rises from her chair, terrified, and wonders if there is something going on that she doesn't know about.
    • As she says those words, Mr. Williams informs us that Big Mama "reviews the history of her forty-five years with Big Daddy, her great, almost embarrassingly true-hearted and simple-minded devotion to Big Daddy, who must have had something Brick has."
    • Mr. Williams tells us that while Big Mama reviews the history of her marriage to Big Daddy in her head, she has a dignity about her and "she almost stops being fat."
    • Doc Baugh begins to speak again.
    • Big Mama interrupts, screaming that she wants to know the truth.
    • Big Mama thrusts her fist into her mouth.
    • Big Mama grabs the corsage pinned at her breast, throws it on the ground, and stomps on it. She exclaims that someone is lying to her.
    • Mae coaxes Big Mama to sit back down.
    • Maggie tells Brick to go sit with his mother.
    • Big Mama wants to know what is going on.
    • Doc Baugh informs everyone that he has never seen a more thorough examination given to a patient than the one given to Big Daddy.
    • Gooper says the clinic is one of the best in the country.
    • Mae corrects her husband and says it is THE best clinic in the country.
    • Mae pokes Gooper hard again.
    • Gooper slaps at her hand.
    • Doc Baugh says the doctors were ninety-nine and nine-tenths sure before they began their examination.
    • Big Mama wants to know of what they were sure.
    • Big Mama starts to sob again.
    • Mae kisses Big Mama.
    • Big Mama pushes her away, again.
    • Mae tells Big Mama to be brave.
    • Brick stands in the doorway and sings a song about the silvery light of the moon.
    • Gooper tells him to shut up.
    • Brick apologizes.
    • Brick walks out on the gallery.
    • Doc Baugh strikes up again and tells Big Mama that they cut a piece of Big Daddy's growth off.
    • Big Mama interrupts him and wants to know what growth he's referring to, since Big Daddy doesn't have cancer.
    • Big Mama starts sobbing again.
    • Doc Baugh tells her that they did tell Big Daddy his condition was just a spastic colon, but that when they tested the tissue from the growth, the doctors discovered that it was malignant.
    • Everyone pauses.
    • Big Mama says, "cancer?! Cancer?!"
    • Doc Baugh nods.
    • Big Mama cries.
    • Mae and Gooper try to calm her down.
    • Big Mama demands to know why they didn't cut the growth out of Big Daddy.
    • Doc Baugh says that too many organs would have been affected by that kind of treatment.
    • Gooper and Mae tell her the liver and kidneys have been affected.
    • Big Mama takes a breath that sounds like a dying gasp.
    • The Reverend makes a weird noise.
    • Doc Baugh says Big Daddy's condition is inoperable.
    • Mae explains that that's why Big Daddy has turned yellow.
    • Big Mama tells Mae to get away from her.
    • Big Mama rises and calls after Brick. She calls him her only son.
    • This ticks Mae and Gooper off.
    • Big Mama continues to call after Brick.
    • Maggie tells her Brick was so upset that he went back out to the gallery.
    • Everyone tries to comfort Big Mama.
    • Big Mama continues to call for Brick.
    • Gooper gets jealous.
    • Big Mama says that Gooper never liked Big Daddy.
    • Mae exclaims that that is not true.
    • The Reverend coughs, rises, and leaves.
    • Doc Baugh comments that the Reverend is lacking intact for talking about memorial windows and air conditioners at a time like this.
    • Big Mama describes this as one big bad dream.
    • Gooper tells everyone he thinks Big Daddy is in a lot of pain but just not telling anyone.
    • Doc Baugh confirms that a lot of patients go into denial at death's door.
    • Gooper thinks Big Daddy should be given morphine.
    • Big Mama says absolutely not.
    • Doc Baugh tells her the pain is going to get really intense.
    • Big Mama says no one will give Big Daddy morphine.
    • Mae tells her she doesn't want to see Big Daddy suffer.
    • Gooper pokes Mae this time.
    • Doc Baugh leaves a package on the table and tells everybody to use it in case there is a sudden attack of pain.
    • Mae tells everyone she knows how to give shots.
    • Gooper vouches that Mae took a course in nursing during the war.
    • Maggie says that somehow she doesn't think Big Daddy would want Mae to give him a shot. Agreed.
    • The doctor leaves, telling Big Mama to keep her chin up.
    • Gooper says she'll keep both chins up. Charming.
    • Gooper ushers the doctor out the door, thanking him, but the doctor doesn't acknowledge him.
    • Gooper gets his feelings hurt and wonders why the doctor can't act more human.
    • Big Mama sobs and says that the news she's just heard is not true.
    • Gooper tells her the medical tests are infallible.
    • Big Mama asks him why he's so intent to see his father dead. Oh snap.
    • Maggie says she knows what Big Mama means.
    • Mae turns on her and tells her that for a newcomer to the family, she sure does seem to know a lot about the Pollitt family.
    • Maggie says understanding is hard to come by in the family.
    • Mae supposes Maggie needed a lot of understanding in her family due to her father's alcoholism and now Brick's alcoholism.
    • Maggie tells her that Brick is devoted to Big Daddy.
    • Big Mama agrees that Brick is Big Daddy's boy, and that Maggie has to cooperate with the family in helping to straighten out Brick, in order that he might take over the plantation and the assets.
    • This sends Mae and Gooper spinning; they cannot believe what Big Mama has just said.
    • Big Mama says there's no need to discuss to whom the inheritance is going to go, because Big Daddy is not dying.
    • Gooper and Mae tell her that everyone has to be prepared for the eventuality of death.
    • Mae goes to get Gooper's briefcase.
    • Gooper saves face by saying he and Big Daddy have always loved each other in quiet ways, but that he has always had to be the responsible one.
    • Mae agrees and says he's always shouldered the responsibility, while Brick has just thrown footballs around.
    • Gooper starts to talk about how much work it takes to run a plantation.
    • Maggie goes out to the gallery and calls softly to Brick.
    • Big Mama tells Gooper and Mae that they don't know anything about running a plantation.
    • They continue to talk about what a help Gooper has been to Big Daddy in the past few years and about how Brick only threw footballs around.
    • Maggie comes back into the room and corrects them by saying that Brick is not a football player but one of the best sports announcers in the country.
    • Maggie wishes they would stop talking about her husband.
    • Gooper informs her he will talk about his brother and his family if he wants to. He tells her to go outside and drink with Brick.
    • Maggie says she's never seen such malice toward a brother before. She tells everyone she knows the reason why Gooper and Mae are vilifying Brick: "avarice, avarice, greed, greed!"
    • Big Mama tells everyone she will scream unless the fighting stops.
    • Gooper approaches Maggie with clenched fists, as though he is going to hit her.
    • Maggie tells everyone that she and Brick have no plans to take over the plantation, that they will leave as soon as Big Daddy has died.
    • Big Mama invites Maggie to come sit with her, and Maggie cuddles with Big Mama.
    • Gooper and Mae bring out the big guns in their jealous rage.
    • Mae informs Big Mama that the reason why Maggie is childless is that Brick won't sleep with her.
    • Gooper launches into a lecture about how he has resented Big Daddy for favoring Brick all these years, and he tells everyone that right now Big Daddy is sinking into uremia, which is the poisoning of the body when the kidneys can no longer get rid of poisons.
    • Maggie comments to herself how poisonous Gooper's words are.
    • Gooper continues, saying that he wants retribution for all those years of being mistreated by Big Daddy. He tells everyone he will hire a lawyer if he finds that anyone is plotting to take his entitlement from him.
    • Brick enters carrying an empty glass.
    • Gooper and Mae mock him, saying he looks like a failed football hero.
    • Big Mama tells them to shut up.
    • Gooper remarks on how a family crisis can bring out the best and worst of everyone involved.
    • Everyone agrees.
    • Mae gestures to Gooper's briefcase.
    • Brick sings while he prepares another drink.
    • Gooper tells Big Mama he has to go to work tomorrow, while Mae arranges documents from his briefcase on the bed.
    • Brick continues singing.
    • Gooper explains that he is bringing up the delicate topic of Big Daddy's estate so prematurely because he has to leave so soon.
    • Gooper proposes a trusteeship that he's been drawing up and planning.
    • Big Mama takes control of the conversation in a Big Daddy kind of a way and tells everyone there will not be anymore catty talk in her house. She tells Gooper to get rid of the documents in his hand. Then she searches for the word Big Daddy uses when he's disgusted.
    • Brick tells her the word is "Crap." A mighty fine word, we feel.
    • Big Mama goes "crap"-crazy.
    • Mae scolds her for swearing.
    • Gooper is offended.
    • Brick starts singing again.
    • Big Mama comments on how Brick looks like he used to look when he was a little boy.
    • Big Mama runs her hand through Brick's hair.
    • Brick pushes Big Mama's hand away and continues singing softly.
    • Big Mama talks about how the family needs to stay strong together and love each other.
    • Big Mama presses her head to Brick's shoulder.
    • Gooper returns his documents to his briefcase.
    • Big Mama continues to fawn over Brick, telling him how much Big Daddy loves him and exclaiming that Big Daddy's greatest wish is for Brick to have a baby boy.
    • Mae sarcastically comments how it's a pity that Brick and Maggie can't make that dream come true.
    • Maggie takes center stage and tells everyone she is going to have a baby.
    • Big Mama is happy.
    • Mae says it's too good to be true.
    • Big Mama grabs Brick's drink from him and tells him that having a baby will straighten him out.
    • Big Mama runs out of the room to go tell Big Daddy the news.
    • Brick drops ice cubes in his glass, and Maggie whispers something to him while she pours the liquor.
    • Mae pokes Gooper again and hisses.
    • Gooper pushes her away and asks Brick for some alcohol.
    • Brick obliges.
    • Mae starts to talk.
    • Gooper shuts her up.
    • Maggie, Gooper, and Mae proceed to bicker about whether or not Maggie is really going to have a baby.
    • Brick turns on the phonograph.
    • A long cry of agony is heard from the other end of the house and "rage fills the house."
    • Maggie turns the phonograph down.
    • Mae and Gooper go investigate the noise, but not before Mae turns to hiss at Maggie.
    • Brick and Maggie are left in the bedroom.
    • Maggie exhales and grabs hold of Brick's arm.
    • Brick informs her he hasn't felt the click.
    • Brick asks Maggie to hand him a pillow.
    • Maggie puts it on the bed.
    • Brick asks her to put it on the sofa, where he sleeps.
    • Maggie says he won't be sleeping on the sofa tonight.
    • Brick goes to the liquor cabinet and takes three shots.
    • Brick feels the click.
    • Brick goes out to the gallery and starts singing again.
    • Maggie puts the pillow on the bed.
    • Maggie grabs all of the bottles from the liquor cabinet and takes them out of the room.
    • Brick comes back into the bedroom and picks up the pillow from the bed.
    • Maggie comes back in and shuts the door.
    • She tells him she used to think he was stronger than her, but now that he's a drinker, she feels like the stronger of the two.
    • Maggie turns out all of the lamps, except for a single rose-silk-shaded lamp by the bed.
    • Maggie tells Brick she's been to a doctor and knows that this is her time of the month to conceive.
    • Brick asks her how she expects to conceive a child by a man in love with his liquor.
    • Maggie replies that she will do so by locking his liquor up.
    • Brick reaches for his crutch, but Maggie grabs it and hurls it over the gallery balcony.
    • Big Mama bursts into the room asking for the package of morphine Doc Baugh had left.
    • Maggie hands her the package.
    • Big Mama tries to embrace Brick.
    • Another cry of agony is heard from across the house.
    • Big Mama leaves.
    • Maggie tells Brick they are going to make their lie true, and that she will return him his alcohol once they are finished.
    • Brick has nothing to say.
    • Maggie turns out the final lamp.
    • The curtain begins to fall.
    • Maggie tells Brick she does love him.
    • Brick says, "wouldn't it be funny if that were true?" Déjà vu?
    • The End.