Stella and Blanche are in the bedroom. Blanche laughs at a letter she is writing to Shep Huntleigh that is full of fabricated stories about cocktail parties and society events that she and Stella have been attending all summer.
Blanche’s lighthearted tone is a thin veneer over her pointed critique of Stanley and Stella’s lower-class, non-aristocratic society: bowling and poker nights are a far cry from yachts and cocktail parties.
Upstairs, Steve and Eunice are heard fighting. Eunice accuses Steve of sleeping with another woman, and she cries out when he hits her. After a clatter and crash of furniture, Eunice runs downstairs, screaming that she is going to call the police.
Steve and Eunice, like Stanley and Stella, have a relationship that blows hot and cold and has ferocious underpinnings. Sex and violence are paired on both floors of the house.
A while later, Stanley comes in and says that Eunice is getting a drink at the Four Deuces, which Stella says is much more “practical” than going to the police. Steve comes downstairs with a bruise on his head, asks for Eunice, and when he learns where she is runs to the bar to find her.
Eunice and Steve, like Stanley and Stella, reconcile quickly after their fight: though they passionately lash against each other, they just as passionately make up.
Stanley and Blanche make tense conversation: she attempts to banter lightly, while he is more than usually brusque. Blanche guess that Stanley is an Aries by the way that he loves to “bang things around,” and she is highly amused to find that he is a Capricorn, the Goat. Blanche tells Stanley that she was born under Virgo, the Virgin, and Stanley guffaws contemptuously.
Blanche tries to explain the world around her through mythology, but Stanley cuts through her fantasies and symbols. The discussion about the stars is also an oblique power struggle over Stella (“stella” means “star”): Stanley rejects Blanche’s interpretation of the constellations.
Stanley asks if Blanche knows anyone named Shaw in Laurel. Blanche blanches, but tries not to show her anxiety. Stanley says that Shaw knew Blanche from the Hotel Flamingo, a disreputable establishment. Blanche attempts to dismiss the accusation lightly, but she is visibly shaken. Steve and Eunice return arm-in-arm to the building. Stanley leaves for the Four Deuces, saying that he will wait for Stella there.
Stanley asserts his power over Blanche through veiled threats rather than direct confrontation: by showing his power without physically wielding it, Blanche knows that it is there, a smoking gun, but has no control over when, or if, he will pull the trigger.
Blanche frantically asks Stella what people in town have been saying about her. Blanche admits that there was a great deal of sordid gossip spreading about her in Laurel. She was too soft, she says, not self-sufficient enough to cope properly with the loss of Belle Reve, and she cloaked herself in half-shadows and Chinese lanterns to make herself attractive.
Blanche does not tell Stella the full truth about her time in Laurel. Just as she hides her face from direct light by putting a paper lantern over the bulb, she glosses over the nasty facts of her history and insists on the illusions.
Stella hands Blanche a Coke and tells her not to talk so morbidly. Blanche asks for a shot of alcohol in the Coke, and Stella pours some whiskey into a glass, insisting that she likes waiting on her sister. Blanche hysterically promises to leave before Stanley kicks her out. Stella tries to calm her as she pours the Coke, but accidentally spills some on Blanche’s skirt, and Blanche shrieks. They blot out the stain quickly, though, and Blanche recovers.
Blanche drinks to escape the present and to blur the harsh edges of reality. When she thinks Stella has stained the dress, she overreacts as though Stella has ruined her whole dream of herself, and she is overly relieved when the stain blots cleanly away. If the stain had stayed, Blanche would have seen herself as tarnished forever.
Stella worriedly asks Blanche why she overreacted to the stain, and Blanche claims that she is nervous about her relationship with Mitch––they are going on another date tonight. She has not been honest with him about her age, and she has not given him more than a kiss, but she wants to keep Mitch interested in her, as she sees him as her way to rest and to get out of Stella and Stanley’s apartment.
Blanche claims that she is only nervous because she wants things with Mitch to go well, but this is also the end of her line, her last chance: she is clinging to this relationship as a way to make her dream about herself stay alive. She is dependent on Mitch to restore her "honor" and security as a married woman.
Stanley comes around the corner and bellows for Eunice, Steve, and Stella. Stella tells Blanche that everything will work out, and she runs off to join Stanley at the bar with Eunice and Steve, leaving Blanche alone in the apartment.
Stanley bellows his mating-call yell again, and Stella runs to his summons, joining the New Orleans world and leaving Blanche behind.
As Blanche waits for Mitch, a Young Man arrives, collecting subscriptions for the Evening Star newspaper. Blanche flirts with the boy, offering him a drink, and attempts to seduce him, calling him a young Arabian prince. She kisses him on the mouth but then sends him on his way. A few moments later, Mitch arrives with roses, which she gushes over.
Blanche’s direct flirtation with this young boy foreshadows the affair with the student that we later learn was the real reason she lost her job, and reveals the voracious, uncontrollable sexual appetite that Blanche tries to keep hidden. The paper’s name, the Evening Star, recalls Stella, since “Stella” means “star.”