Biloxi Blues Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Biloxi Blues.
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Biloxi Blues Summary & Study Guide Description

Biloxi Blues Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Biloxi Blues by Neil Simon.

Biloxi Blues is the second in a trilogy of semi-autobiographical plays by Neil Simon that cover the life of a writer growing up in 1930s New York City. The “Eugene Trilogy” begins with the play Brighton Beach Memoirs and ends with Broadway Bound. Eugene Morris Jerome is the title character and in Biloxi Blues; it is 1943 and he has just been drafted into the U.S. Army. The play covers the period of time that Eugene spends in basic training in Biloxi, Mississippi. Biloxi Blues opened in Los Angeles in 1984 and then in New York City in 1985. It won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1985 – the first of two times that Neil Simon was honored with that award.

The play starts on a crowded train as several young soldiers from the East Coast are shipped off to the U.S. Army basic training camp in Biloxi, Mississippi. Eugene Morris Jerome stays awake, writing in his memoirs, as the other soldiers around him try to get some sleep. As each character is presented, Eugene reads his written commentary about the young man to the audience. There is Roy Selridge, a smelly guy from Schenectady, New York who has “cavities in nineteen out of thirty-two teeth.” Next up is Joseph Wykowski from Bridgeport, Connecticut who will eat anything and has a “permanent erection,” and then Donald Carney from Montclair, New Jersey who insists on singing despite his awful voice. Arnold Epstein, from Queens Boulevard, New York, is intellectual and well-read but suffers from poor digestion. Eugene explains that he has never been away from home before but that he has three goals for his time in the war:to stay alive, become a writer and lose his virginity.

After arriving in Biloxi, the young men meet their commanding officer, Sergeant Toomey. Toomey is a tough-talking soldier with a steel plate in his head who tries to break the men by enforcing unfair rules and ordering latrine duty as punishment for disrespect. Arnold Epstein enters a battle of wills with Toomey that lasts throughout basic training and earns Epstein many pushups, although he is willing to do them, as he believes that he is standing up for his dignity. The other men just try to stay out of Toomey’s way and do the minimum to survive the training.

Eugene is able to fulfill one of the goals on his list when he loses his virginity to a prostitute. Soon after he meets Daisy Hannigan: a beautiful, well-read Catholic girl who goes to an all-girls’ school in Gulfport. The two begin writing letters and seeing each other as much as possible. Eugene confesses his love for Daisy just before his deployment and she tells him that she loves him too. Even though the chances of Eugene and Daisy ending up together following the war are slim, Eugene says that his relationship with Daisy has given him something to live for.

In the final scene of the play, the young men are back in a train car traveling away from Biloxi and basic training. As his comrades sleep, Eugene addresses the audience and tells them what happens to each character following the war. The audience learns that Eugene accomplishes his goals of staying alive and becoming a writer, although maybe not in the way that he had expected.

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This section contains 557 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Biloxi Blues Study Guide
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