HELEN: We're both trying, darling. You're trying not to drink and I'm trying not to love you.
Dang—that's some real talk. Although Helen knows that she shouldn't waste her time on a drunk like Don, she's too head over heels to leave. That's a sticky situation.
[Helen is waiting for Don in front of his apartment building. He sneaks past in order to enter his apartment without her noticing.]
And Don repays Helen's love how? By ignoring her? By sneaking past her? By taking her for granted? This dude better be careful or he'll end up giving Helen all the motivation she needs to kick his butt to the curb. We'd have done it yesterday.
DON: By this time, he's crazy about the girl. He drinks tomato juice—doesn't touch liquor that whole week. For two weeks. For six weeks.
Things were different when Don and Helen first got together. Although Don was as much of a drunk back then as he is now, the buzz he got from their blossoming romance was enough to keep him away from the bottle for a time. So what changed?
DON: Love is the hardest thing in the world to write about. It's so simple—you've got to catch it through details
Don then proceeds to give us a litany of small details that describe his feelings for Helen, which shows that he does indeed love her. So why does he treat her so badly? If you're asking us, we'd pin the blame on Don's shame regarding his addiction.
DON: He thinks he's cured. If he could only get a job, they'd be married and that's that.
In our opinion, Don falls off the wagon because he places too much emphasis on his relationship with Helen. She can help him a great deal, true, but she's not a cure-all for everything that ails him.
HELEN: Is that Don's bottle? [...]
WICK: You might as well hear the family scandal. I drink. Don thinks I drink too much.
Although we've been talking about Helen and Don for the most part, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the love between the Birnam bros. Unfortunately, Wick's overprotective tendencies sometimes causes more harm than good.
HELEN: Because I've got a rival? Because you're in love with this? [Motions to drink.] You don't know me. I'm going to fight and fight and fight.
We love Helen, but she can be a little naïve at times. After all, you can "fight" all you want, but that doesn't mean you're going to win the battle, if you catch our drift. In fact, if we were being uncharitable, we'd say that the fact that Don needs to be fixed is half of the reason why Helen is so attracted to him.
DON: She knows she's clutching a razor blade, but she won't let go. Three years of it.
For his part, Don has no illusions—he knows that Helen would be better off without him. This realization causes him a great deal of shame and end up contributing to his addiction.
HELEN: Stop talking about him as if he were dead.
LANDLADY: Best thing for you if he was.
Those are some harsh words, Ms. Landlady, but we're not sure if we can disagree. We doubt Helen could honestly disagree either, which is why she leaves the apartment so awkwardly after this exchange.
HELEN: It had to be that coat.
DON: The one that brought us together? Stop being sentimental.
HELEN: Oh, I have, Don, I assure you. It's finished. It's dead.
In a fitting symbolic move, Don sells Helen's leopard print coat—the same coat that led to their chance meeting—at a pawn shop. This is too much for Helen. Although the play ends with Don renouncing alcohol and the couple staying together, this is perhaps the lowest moment that they've ever shared.