Joe Turner's Come and Gone - Study Guide Act 2, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

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This section contains 652 words
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Act 2, Scene 1 Summary

The next morning Seth is again complaining about the disruptive presence of Herald in the boardinghouse. Bertha tries to get Seth to have some compassion for Herald and to think about Zonia, who needs a place to stay. Bertha passes off Herald's behavior of the previous night as drunkenness, but Seth wants no more excuses and plans to ask Herald to leave.

When Herald appears in the kitchen, Seth tells Herald that he must leave because of his odd behavior, but Herald reminds Seth that he has prepaid and will be staying until the end of the week. Seth cannot argue with this fact and is forced to relent.

The other residents of the house are now gathered for breakfast and the young girl, Molly, is impressed by Bynum's intervention during Herald's outburst from the night before. She asks Bynum if he is one of those "voodoo people." Bynum explains only that he is able to bind people with a song just like his father before him. Molly's mother used to believe in this sort of behavior, but Molly has no interest in it, a fact which insults Bynum, so the old man leaves the house to be away from this limited thinking.

Mattie must leave for her job cleaning and ironing at the home of Doc Goldblum. Molly declares that she has no intention of ever cleaning or ironing for anyone else. According to Molly, Mattie would not have to work if Jeremy were truly her man and taking care of her like he should. Mattie informs Molly that Jeremy is only a temporary man, to which Molly responds that men are no good and she has not met one yet that can be trusted. Molly only loves her mother and has no intention of being tied down to any unfaithful man and a house full of babies.

Jeremy returns unexpectedly from work, having been fired because he will not pay a white man a fee to be permitted to keep working. Seth thinks that the nominal fee is not worth making a fuss and losing a job, but Jeremy is outraged by the principle of the matter. To Jeremy, another job and another place to stay are just down the next road.

Jeremy sees Molly and asks her to leave with him, but Molly contends that Jeremy is already attached to Mattie. Jeremy's intentions with regard to Mattie had only been temporary because Jeremy felt sad for Mattie's loneliness. Molly is the opposite of this, and it is Molly's independence which is so appealing to Jeremy; her independence makes Molly the type of woman with whom he wants to align himself.

Molly states her criteria for going with Jeremy, who feels he can make a decent living by winning guitar contests. Molly will not work and definitely will not go south; both of these demands are terms to which Jeremy agrees, and the two make plans to leave the boardinghouse together.

Act 2, Scene 1 Analysis

The theme of tolerance is important in this scene beginning with Seth's continuing impatience with Bynum. Bertha is the calm voice of reason for her husband's behavior and Seth always calms down when presented with rationality. Mattie has no tolerance for Bynum's rituals and practices and she symbolizes the new thinking of the younger black generation trying to free itself of old restrictions and ways of thinking, represented by Bynum.

The two young black women, Mattie and Molly, have little tolerance for the other's point of view and lifestyle. Mattie does not understand Molly's need to be unfettered and Molly does not understand Mattie's need for employment and stability. Ironically, it is Mattie's employment and search for security which provide the freedom that Molly does not have, yet desperately craves, as Molly is dependent on her mother and any man she can find to provide her with financial support.

This section contains 652 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Joe Turner's Come and Gone from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.