Study Guide

The Iceman Cometh Act 2

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Act 2

  • Cora, Pearl, and Margie, with a little Rocky and Chuck, set up for Harry’s birthday party. They are all dressed up for the occasion. Larry sits drinking, and Hugo is passed out as always.
  • The group talks about how Hickey has taken over the whole place and how they don’t like it. Yep, we’re back to people just talking about Hickey. The tension Hickey has caused leads them to start arguing amongst themselves.
  • Hickey returns bearing gifts. He’s got champagne, which excites the three girls, because they’ve never really gotten drunk on champagne before. This changes the mood of the room for a good second or two. 
  • An argument breaks out between Larry and Hickey, because Hickey tells Larry that Larry will have to face Parritt at some point or Parritt will never find peace.
  • Willie enters. He’s trying to lay off the booze and is shaking like something ripe for an SNL parody. (Alcohol withdrawal is no joke.) He claims he’s going to go to the D.A.’s office in the morning to try to get a job.
  • Parritt enters and begs Larry to get Hickey to lay off of him. Apparently, Hickey told Parritt that it was time for Parritt to face the truth. Of course, no one really knows what that truth is just yet, although Parritt hints that he had something to do with snitching on his mom. Larry makes it clear he doesn’t care and just wants to die already.
  • Wetjoen and Lewis, former enemies in the Boer War, fist-fight their way onto stage as if they’re enemies again. Not surprisingly, their anger stems from something Hickey said.
  • Everyone is in a thoroughly foul mood.
  • Hickey puts the finishing touches of the party together. He gets Cora to play the piano in anticipation of Harry’s entrance.
  • Harry enters. Harry yells at Cora for playing the piano, who bursts into tears. He yells at everyone, but Hickey gets him to lay off the others for a bit. Harry feels bad and pretends he was just kidding.
  • Poor Jimmy Tomorrow now takes the brunt of Hickey’s badgering. This leads to him passing on the booze and slumping into a chair.
  • Harry’s not in the mood for his party, much to the disappointment of the girls who went all out on cake and presents. Still he tries to put on a brave face.
  • Turns out Jimmy’s wife left him because he was a drunk. Big surprise there.
  • Hickey and Larry go at it again, and Larry wants to know what caused Hickey’s transition of Kirk-Cameron-esque proportions.
  • Rocky tries to remind everyone that they have real champagne, which hasn’t been touched.
  • The group toasts to the birthday boy, with even Hickey having a drink. Harry gets choked up at the gesture. He even makes an emotional speech thanking everyone. Yay! Things might start turning around for the better, right?
  • False alarm. Things get worse. Larry pressures Hickey into telling them what has happened. Larry jokes that the old story Hickey used to tell about his wife having an affair with the Iceman must have finally come true. 
  • Well, it turns out Hickey’s wife wasn’t cheating on him. In fact, she’s dead.
  • Larry apologizes. Hickey says not to throw “a wet blanket” (1) on Harry’s party and that it’s all good, because she’s finally at peace and all she ever wanted was for Hickey to be happy.
  • Curtain.

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