Study Guide

Our Town Act Three

By Thornton Wilder

Act Three

  • The Stage Manager shows us the town cemetery. The more recent graves hold the remains of Mrs. Gibbs, Simon Stimson, Mrs. Soames, and Wallace Webb. The dead characters are seen in their human form sitting in chairs.
  • Sam Craig, Emily’s cousin, talks with Joe Stoddard, the undertaker. Sam stumbles onto Simon’s headstone.
  • We learn that Simon hung himself.
  • Joe and the others are there to prepare for Emily’s funeral. She passed away giving birth to a second child.
  • Emily (dead Emily) goes to the cemetery plot and sits next to Mrs. Gibbs as the funeral procession comes forward.
  • Emily finds hope in the thought that she can go back and be amongst the living.
  • Mrs. Gibbs advises her not to return, saying that she’ll need to forget the life she once lived.
  • Emily decides to ignore her mother-in-law’s advice and go back to her twelfth birthday, February 11, 1899.
  • The Stage Manager accompanies her as she revisits her old house and watches her parents interact.
  • Emily talks to her mother, but Mrs. Webb doesn't hear her.
  • Emily tells her mother what happens in the future: marriage to George, Wally’s death, etc.
  • Finally, she can’t bear seeing her parents so oblivious to the future, and so nonchalant about the present.
  • Emily returns to the cemetery and all of the dead talk about the idiocy of living people.
  • On that cheerful note, the Stage Manager wishes the audience a good night.