Three Plays Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. How does Eben's position in the household contribute to his conflicts over the estate in Desire Under the Elms?

Eben's position as the younger son places him in conflict with his patronizing older brothers. At the same time, Eben's position as the child of his father's second wife places him in conflict with both his father, Ephraim, and Ephraim's new wife, neither of whom recognize or value Eben's deceased mother.

2. What does the argument over the estate devolve to between the brothers in Part 1 of Desire Under the Elms?

As Eben, Peter and Simeon argue over which of them should inherit the farm, Simeon recalls the last time he saw Ephraim, riding off "t'learn God's message ... like the prophets done." Frustrated and angry, Eben rushes out to visit a woman named Minnie, shouting down Peter and Simeon's taunts that she is old and that they and Ephraim all "had" her long ago.

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