It is later that night. Blanche is sitting in her red satin robe in the bedroom. The Varsouviana polka music can be heard from offstage. The stage directions say that the music is playing in Blanche’s mind and that she is drinking to escape it.
Blanche’s past continues to haunt her. The red robe indicates her more dangerously sexual side, rather than the innocent, naïve white she wears throughout most of the play.
Mitch, unshaven and disheveled, rings the doorbell. The polka stops. Blanche hurriedly puts on powder and perfume and hides the liquor before letting Mitch in. She greets him with a hectic and excited chiding and offers a kiss, but he refuses and stalks past her into the bedroom.
For the first time, Mitch has lost his gentlemanly composure. Blanche still wants to maintain an image of herself as an innocent girl, hiding the evidence of the alcohol and covering up her natural scent.
Mitch asks Blanche to turn off the fan. She offers him a drink. Mitch says that he doesn’t want Stanley’s liquor, but Blanche replies that she has her own. She wants to know what is the matter, but says she won’t press Mitch about it. The polka music begins again, and she is agitated. Blanche says that the music always stops when she hears a gunshot. Blanche and the audience hear a shot, and the music stops. Mitch doesn’t hear anything.
When the polka music plays inside Blanche’s mind, her composure begins to crack. She talks about the music as though Mitch can hear it, too, although it is only inside her head. Blanche is beginning to mix up reality and illusion.
Blanche pretends to happen upon the liquor bottle in the closet and pretends that she doesn’t know what Southern Comfort is. Mitch again refuses a drink, saying that Stanley says she has been drinking his liquor all summer.
Blanche asks Mitch what’s on his mind. Mitch says that he’s never seen Blanche in the daytime or in the light. He rips the paper lantern off the light bulb. Blanche gasps, crying, “I don’t want realism. I want magic!”
Mitch stares Blanche in the face. He says that he doesn’t mind her being older than he’d thought, but he does mind all the lying. Blanche begins to deny it, but Mitch says he’s heard the stories about her from three sources: Stanley, Shaw, and a merchant in Laurel.
Mitch isn't disgusted when he sees Blanche in the light of day; rather, he is only angry that she has lied to him. Blanche keeps her constructed version of herself alive as long as she can, but soon realizes that Mitch knows the truth.
At first, Blanche declares that all three men made up the stories out of revenge. But as she takes another drink, she breaks down into sobs. She admits that after her husband’s death, the only solace and sense of protection she found was in “intimacies with strangers.” She says that she didn’t know what she was doing and that she acted out of panic. Mitch, she says, was the first man who gave her hope. After a pause, Mitch says that Blanche lied to him “inside and out,” but Blanche says that she never lied in her heart.
Blanche continues her melodramatic performance for Mitch: even after he throws the spotlight on her and takes away her illusions, she continues to act theatrically, playing the role of a tragic heroine rather than reacting as a real woman. Mitch, however, wants reality, not melodrama.
A Mexican Woman comes to the door, selling “flores para los muertos” (flowers for the dead). Blanche is frightened and slams the door. The polka music begins again, and the Mexican Woman’s voice can still be heard from outside.
Blanche is terrified by the Mexican woman because the “flowers for the dead” remind her vividly of her dead husband, and the memory tortures her.
Blanche gives a tortured, almost hallucinatory soliloquy about Belle Reve and the camp of soldiers stationed near the plantation. Blanche says that she would solace herself with the soldiers occasionally. She says that the opposite of death is desire.
Blanche begins to descend into madness, living simultaneously in her memories and the present. Symbols and reality are beginning to mix in her mind.
Mitch begins to embrace Blanche, but Blanche insists that he marry her first. Mitch drops his hands, saying that she is not clean enough to bring home to his mother. Blanche yells at Mitch, insisting that he leave before she screams fire. When he doesn’t leave, she indeed begins to scream, “Fire! Fire! Fire!” Mitch clumsily clatters out the door and around the corner. Blanche falls to her knees as a piano plays in the distance.
Mitch still seems to have feelings for Blanche—both sexual and emotional. But he can't get over her past. At the same time, he refuses to take advantage of Blanche sexually, which – even though she refuses him first – makes Blanche even more hysterical. Mitch leaves Blanche alone. Her only mode of escape is her own mind, and she begins to show signs of a breakdown.