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Literature Study GuidesCloud 9Act 2 Scene 3 Summary

Cloud 9 | Study Guide

Caryl Churchill

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Cloud 9 | Act 2, Scene 3 | Summary



Victoria, Lin, and Edward are in the park on a summer evening. They are drunk and intent on having an orgy, which begins with a ceremony to "call up the goddess." Edward and Lin joke around, but Victoria takes this seriously. As her brother and lover chant, she asks the goddess to "make us the women we can't be." Victoria has studied up on ancient priestesses and tries to educate Lin and Edward about the goddess's matriarchal society, but they are more interested in having sex than listening to a lecture. A stranger approaches, and they decide to ask him to join them.

The stranger isn't actually a stranger at all—it's Martin, who has been searching the park for them. His frustration dissipates as he's pulled into their tangle of limbs—he has no problem with "having a lot of sex" and joins in. Another stranger approaches; this time it's a soldier. Lin is convinced it's her dead brother, Bill. She asks if he has come back to tell them something, but he's just there for sex. He tells her the army was boring and terrifying and all he wanted to do was have sex, but then he died. Lin collapses and he leaves.

The mood has changed, and Edward decides it's time to go home. Victoria is going to move in with Lin and Edward, who are already living together, but Martin doesn't want to talk about it until they are sober. They all leave and Gerry enters. He talks about coming to the park at night and how much he likes living alone. He calls Edward's name, and young Edward from Act 1 enters. Young Edward tells Gerry he loves him and asks, "You know what we did? I want to do it again." Gerry agrees. The cast returns to the stage and sings a song called "Cloud Nine."


Victoria and Lin are engaged in a sexual relationship that is incestuous. Like the pedophilia in Act 1, Victoria and Edward's sexual interest in one another is meant to shock the audience. It is also meant to be a source of comfort between the two characters. Edward and Victoria are both looking for relationships in which they are free from the expectations of their genders and other roles. Victoria wants to pursue her career; Edward wants to be a caregiver. Lin is the conduit that brings them together. She is sexually and emotionally attracted to Victoria, and though Edward is a man, his femininity makes him (in his mind) more female than male. It doesn't matter that Lin identifies as a lesbian or Edward identifies as gay, or that Edward and Victoria are siblings. The important thing is their compatibility. Their three-way partnership transcends social labels and furthers the play's message about accepting one's entire self, not just the parts deemed "proper" by society.

Edward and Victoria have come to terms with who they are, but Gerry isn't quite there yet. He is initially portrayed as the stereotypical sexually liberated gay man of the late 1970s, promiscuous and wholly uninterested in a long-term, marriage-like relationship. But his boasts about having sex any time he wants and his passionate defense of living alone come across as insecurity, not confidence. Though he tries to convince himself he's living the perfect life, he is continually drawn back to Edward. The conversation he has with young Edward, which is almost exactly the same conversation between Harry and Edward in Act 1, Scene 2, indicates he feels something deeper for Edward than he is willing to admit. Like Edward and Victoria, Gerry is beginning to realize he doesn't fit the role assigned to him by society.

The song at the end of the scene, "Cloud Nine," leaves little ambiguity as to what the play is about. Cloud nine is an idiom, or figurative expression, used to describe the highest state of happiness. According to the lyrics of the song, which is original to the play, this state of bliss can be achieved when one looks beyond the constructs of traditional romantic relationships. "They were women in love," and "Two the same" point to the acceptance of homosexual relationships, while "The bride was sixty-five, the groom was seventeen" acknowledges unconventional heterosexual romances. The song's—and the play's—message is people in every type of relationship have a chance at unparalleled happiness.

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