Summary and Analysis
Act II: Part 3
The Stage Manager interrupts to reflect on how the relationship between George and Emily began. His reason is that "suddenly you are young and you make a decision to get married and the next thing you know you are seventy and that whitehaired lady at your side has eaten over fifty thousand meals with you " The Stage Manager explains that George has just been elected president of the senior class for the next year and that Emily has been elected secretary-treasurer. Emily is walking down Main Street carrying an armful of schoolbooks. George catches up with her and asks to carry her books. He says that he is awfully glad she was elected.
Suddenly George asks why she is angry with him. Emily gives an honest answer: George has changed during the last year; he spends too much time playing baseball, and people talk about him because he doesn't speak to anyone and acts conceited. George stammers and then admits that Emily's honesty is beneficial because "it's hard for a fella not to have faults creep into his character " Emily explains that she wants men to be perfect and there is no reason why George shouldn't be. George maintains that "men aren't naturally good; but girls are " He asks her to have an ice cream soda with him.
George and Emily enter Morgan's drugstore. The Stage Manager appears in the role of Mr. Morgan, the druggist. He notices that Emily has been crying. George fibs that Emily has been frightened by Tom Huckins' maniac driving. George insists that they order two strawberry ice cream sodas to celebrate their election.
After being served, George exclaims that he is glad to have a friend who will tell him all the things "that ought to be told me " Emily regrets having said anything because she sees that her statement is not true.
George asks her to write him when he goes away to agriculture college. She promises to do so but wonders if he will still be interested in Grover's Corners. He admits that he sees no real need for going away. He has talked with farmers who see no necessity for a farmer to attend agricultural college. Furthermore, Uncle Luke is almost ready to retire and let George take over the farm. Suddenly, George decides not to go to college. He plans to tell his father that night.
George then warms to Emily, asserting that she was wrong in one aspect of her criticism. He assures her that he has always noticed her. Whenever he plays ball, he looks to see if she is in the bleachers. He has tried to walk home with her, but she always seems to be with someone else. Suddenly, he wonders if, upon his improvement, Emily will consent to be . Emily interrupts that, yes, she is already and always has been.
George tells Emily that it is really good that they had this little talk. He asks Mr. Morgan to wait until he can run home to get the money to pay their bill. He offers his watch as surety for the debt.
This is the central scene of Act II. It presents the simple but appealing account of how two teenagers overcome a misunderstanding and disclose their mutual love. The success of the scene lies in Wilder's ability to re-create a romantic scene without cluttering it with sentiment. The scene is both honest and slightly nostalgic, but it contains hints of the absurdity of youthful declarations of love. The scene is delicately balanced between tenderness and the almost comic quality found in the young people's naiveté.
In terms of the entire play, this is a love that grows out of daily life and leads to a sensible, down-to-earth union of two people from the same background. George, who is easily out-maneuvered by Emily's logic and poise, makes up a clumsy ruse to cover for her tears. His manly protection of his girl from a maniac driver presages his moving farewell at Emily's grave in Act III. Even though George fills the role of a loyal, protective husband, he is unable to hold back death.