Picnic Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is the setting for the play?

PICNIC starts on Labor Day, early in the morning in a small Kansas town. All of the on-stage action happens on the porches of two neighboring homes.

2. Which characters live in the two homes?

Mrs. Flo Owens lives in one of the homes with her teenage daughters, Madge and Millie. An older woman, Mrs. Helen Potts, lives in the other house, where she takes care of her invalid mother.

3. Who is Hal and how is he introduced in the scene?

The scene starts with Mrs. Potts talking with Hal, a very handsome young vagabond she has hired for the day. Mrs. Potts is very kind to him and feeds him breakfast in exchange for his work.

4. How do Madge and Hal meet?

On the Owens' porch, Millie is bickering with a teenager named Bomber. Madge comes out. She is "unusually" beautiful and eighteen years old. Bomber asks Madge out on a date. She explains she is dating Alan and says Bomber should leave her alone. However, Bomber is persistent and begins to use crude, insulting language to pressure her into accepting a date. Hal appears from next door and tells Bomber to leave. Bomber is intimidated by Hal's football player physique and slinks away. Madge and Hal exchange hellos and appear instantly attracted to each other, but before they can speak further, Flo comes outside and chases Hal off her property.

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