Literature Study GuidesHomecomingAct 1 Section 3 Summary

Homecoming | Study Guide

Cynthia Voigt

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Course Hero, "Homecoming Study Guide," April 5, 2019, accessed July 24, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Homecoming/.

Homecoming | Act 1, Section 3 | Summary

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Summary

In the morning, Joey does some exercises, combs his hair, and shadowboxes in front of the mirror as Max watches.

Max says he likes the kitchen. However, he can't stay in there as much as he wants because Sam is always in there washing things. Max asks if Joey wants to come to a football game that afternoon, but Joey says he's got training. Sam enters, and Max accuses him of resenting cooking and cleaning and tells him that just before their father died, he'd asked Max to look after his brothers. He then boasts about taking after his father, becoming a butcher, and fathering three sons. "What have you done?" he demands of Sam. Sam asks if he wants to finish the washing up.

Teddy and Ruth enter, wearing dressing gowns, to general surprise. Teddy introduces Ruth to Max, who demands to know who gave permission to bring "tarts" into the house. Teddy insists Ruth is his wife, but Max still rails against having a whore in the house and wants her thrown out. As if apologizing for his father, Joey tells Teddy Max is an old man. Max hits Joey in the stomach and then hits Sam with his stick. The fight slowly resolves. Max asks Ruth if she is a mother. After Ruth says yes and that they have three children, Max asks Teddy if all three are his. Then Max asks Teddy for a "cuddle." Teddy says he's ready, and Max turns to the rest of the family, proud that Teddy "still loves his father!"

Analysis

This section begins the way the play begins, in some ways: Max complaining about others and looking for reasons to criticize. Today he seems obsessed by Sam in the kitchen, washing up, when Max would like to be in there. This outrage seems manufactured, but it brings out one of Sam's roles in the family—cleaning up in the kitchen. Max's complaints of his brother's always being in the kitchen frame Sam as something of a housewife, suggesting Sam has taken over some of the female roles in the male household. Max's disdain for a man who shows any feminine traits makes the shift to boasting about his own masculinity a reasonable next step in the conversation, raising questions about masculinity in general and each man's relationship to it. Sam's somewhat fussy nature causes Max to boast again of his masculinity: that he took up the butchering trade (very masculine) and fathered three sons (sons, not daughters).

When Ruth enters, Max's first thought is that she is a prostitute. This assumption gives the audience a glimpse into the way women are viewed in this household. It is more likely to Max that Ruth is a whore than a girlfriend or wife. He seems incensed about the presence of a whore is in his house, a sentiment that provides a situationally ironic twist, for not only is Lenny a pimp, but later in the play Max spearheads a plan to make her work for them as a prostitute.

Ruth shows the same emotional restraint as she did when Teddy was hovering over her and when Lenny was trying to intimidate her. Cool and collected, she doesn't react at all to Max's accusations. She calmly answers his question about her children. Indeed, her ability to stay impassive in the face of emotional and volatile men is one way she gains power over them. The other is her sexuality, which she uses regularly and confidently to demonstrate power over the men.

One interesting query in this section is Max's question to Teddy about the paternity of his sons. This question echoes the hint from the interaction between Lenny and Max that Max has doubts about whether all his children are actually his.

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