Homecoming | Study Guide

Cynthia Voigt

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Course Hero. "Homecoming Study Guide." Course Hero. 5 Apr. 2019. Web. 28 July 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Homecoming/>.

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Course Hero. (2019, April 5). Homecoming Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 28, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Homecoming/

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Course Hero. "Homecoming Study Guide." April 5, 2019. Accessed July 28, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Homecoming/.

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Course Hero, "Homecoming Study Guide," April 5, 2019, accessed July 28, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Homecoming/.

Homecoming | Plot Summary

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Summary

Act 1, Section 1

The play begins in the evening, in the living room of an old house in North London, in the mid-20th century. Max, his brother Sam, and Max's adult sons, Lenny and Joey, live in the house. Lenny is sitting on the sofa writing on a newspaper when his father enters in search of a cigarette. Max demands Lenny give him a cigarette, complains about getting old, boasts of his youthful exploits, and remembers his deceased wife, Jessie, with a kind of fondness.

Silent during Max's rant, Lenny finally tells his father to shut up. The two argue, insult each other, and then sit in silence until Sam enters. Sam, a chauffeur, talks about his job and describes a client he drove to the airport. Max teases and mocks Sam and, after Lenny leaves, asks Sam why he never married. Max jokes about Sam's love life, and Sam mentions that when Jessie was alive, he enjoyed driving her around while Max was working.

Joey returns from the gym where he was working out in hopes of making it big as a boxer. Max mocks Joey's boxing abilities, and the conversation generally devolves into complaints, insults, and mockery of and by all.

Act 1, Section 2

Late that night, when the four men are asleep, Ruth and Teddy arrive. Teddy has not been home in six years and has not told his family of this visit, his marriage, or his three sons who are back home in the United States where Teddy is a philosophy professor. Teddy is surprised his key still works and his old room and bed are still available, as if he'd never left. Ruth decides to get some fresh air, so Teddy hands over the key and watches through the window as she goes outside.

Lenny, unable to sleep, enters the room. After Teddy and Lenny talk a while, Teddy goes upstairs to sleep. Lenny is sitting in the living room, smoking, when Ruth returns. The two talk about the family and Teddy, after which Lenny shares stories about beating up a prostitute and hitting an old woman. Ruth invites Lenny to sit on her lap, take a drink of water from her glass, and then lie on the floor while she pours the water down his throat. Lenny is confused by her "proposal," and she goes up to bed. Max wakes up and asks Lenny what all the noise is, and Lenny tells him he was talking to himself. Lenny asks whether his conception was intentional or not, and Max aggressively insults him.

Act 1, Section 3

In the morning Max's complaints about Sam's constant presence in the kitchen washing up give way to a general complaint against Sam for not making more of himself by working hard and having a family, as Max did. Teddy and Ruth enter in the midst of this. Max is shocked and accusatory—demanding to know if anyone knew they had come in and demanding to know who gave permission to bring "tarts" into the house. Teddy says Ruth is his wife, but Max continues to call her a whore and wants her thrown out of the house. As others disagree with Max's demands—either by apologizing or by not complying with them—Max begins a physical fight. Afterward, Max asks Ruth if she is a mother. Ruth says yes. Max then seeks a hug from Teddy, and Teddy seems ready to give one. Max announces, "He still loves his father!"

Act 2, Section 1

That afternoon Max, Teddy, Lenny, and Sam smoke cigars, and Ruth and Joey bring in coffee. Max asks if she is a good cook, and after Teddy says she is, reminisces about Jessie—first tenderly and then insultingly. He gives Sam a hard time about his job and then gives Teddy one about keeping his marriage secret. In the next breath, he compliments Ruth on being "intelligent and sympathetic," asking her if she thinks the children miss their mother.

Lenny asks Teddy some philosophical questions having to do with what is real and what can be known. Ruth hijacks the conversation into one that is sexually suggestive. Teddy clearly wants to go home, but the others, especially Joey, seem mesmerized by her. Teddy goes upstairs to pack their things, and Lenny sits next to Ruth. They talk, and although Teddy (as well as other family members) comes back into the room, Ruth and Lenny dance to slow jazz and kiss. Then Joey and Ruth kiss and caress on the sofa.

Ruth and Joey fall off the sofa onto the floor, and Lenny touches Ruth with his foot. She pushes Joey away and stands, demanding a tumbler of whiskey. She asks if the family has read Teddy's "critical works," and Max says that none of them have. Teddy complains his family gets lost in the things they do, while he can remain more objective and observant.

Act 2, Section 2

In the evening Teddy and Sam discuss Max's deceased friend MacGregor, and Sam asks Teddy to stay a few more weeks. A little later, Lenny tells Teddy the family is proud of him. After Joey and Max enter the room, Lenny tells Max that Ruth was upstairs with Joey for two hours, yet didn't have sex with him.

Max suggests they keep Ruth around. Teddy and Sam object, but Max persists in making a plan for her to stay. He and Lenny speculate that she could take care of them—in various ways—and contribute financially to the family by working a few hours for Lenny (who is in fact a pimp) as a prostitute. When Ruth comes downstairs, Teddy tells her the family would like her to stay a while, and if she wants to stay, he will go home and take care of the children. Ruth agrees to stay, though she has some demands of her own.

Suddenly, Sam reveals that MacGregor and Jessie had sex in the back of his cab; then he collapses on the floor.

Teddy leaves, and Ruth sits victoriously in a chair. Joey kneels next to her and places his head in her lap. Max, beginning to weep and insisting "I'm not an old man," crawls toward her and kneels on her other side, saying she has to take them all, not just Joey. As Lenny stands nearby, Ruth strokes Joey's hair, and Max begs her for a kiss.

Homecoming Plot Diagram

Climax123456789Rising ActionFalling ActionResolutionIntroduction

Introduction

1 Max antagonizes his sons and brother.

Rising Action

2 Teddy and Ruth arrive unexpectedly.

3 Ruth invites Lenny to sit on her lap and drink water.

4 Ruth kisses Lenny while the others watch.

5 Ruth kisses and embraces Joey while the others watch.

6 Max, Lenny, and Joey invite Ruth to stay.

Climax

7 Ruth agrees to stay, but Teddy decides to go home.

Falling Action

8 Sam reveals Jessie had an affair and then collapses.

Resolution

9 Joey and Max kneel next to Ruth, seated in Max's chair.

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