A Taste of Honey

A Taste of Honey Act 2: Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It is now summer and Jo, who is visibly pregnant, enters the apartment with her friend Geoffrey. The two of them are playing with colorful balloons and talking about the fair they have just been to, which they both enjoyed. Jo lies down on the couch and complains about having to get up early the next morning. She boldly asks Geoffrey, who is standing uncomfortably in the room, if he has a home, which Geoffrey says he does.
This playful, lighthearted scene shows that Jo is not all alone, since she is benefiting from Geoffrey’s friendship. Her approach to what she instinctively perceives as Geof’s possible homelessness is brutal and direct, unaware of the emotional effect her words might have on her friend.
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Jo asks Geof to go get her some biscuits in the kitchen but to keep the light turned off. When Geof bangs into a piece of furniture and hurts himself, Jo tells him to strike a match. This then allows Geof to realize, with surprise, how big the apartment is, and Jo expresses pride and happiness in knowing it is all hers, even if she has to work two jobs to pay for it. Geof notes that it is quite big for one person and Jo deviously asks him if he is thinking of moving in, which she becomes convinced of despite his protestations to the contrary.
Jo’s pride in living in the apartment on her own demonstrates the fulfillment of her desire to be independent and capable of maintaining herself. Jo seems particularly intuitive when it comes to Geoffrey, as she senses his current homeless situation and his desire to stay with her before he even tells her about it.
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Judging by how eager Geof was to accompany her home, Jo becomes convinced that Geof’s landlady has indeed kicked him out of his apartment. While he finally admits that this is the case, he explains that it had to do with the rent. However, Jo, finding his answer unconvincing, interrogates him relentlessly, hypothesizing that his landlady must have found him with a man, which she mocks him for. Geof rejects these ideas but Jo still tells him he can sleep on the couch if he agrees to tell her about himself, because she is curious about people like him. Offended, Geof gets angry and stands up to leave, but Jo quickly apologizes and asks him to stay. Geof says that women can be insufferable and that, in general, he hates people who laugh at others. In the end, though, Jo’s repeated pleas seem to work and Geof agrees to stay.
Instead of trying to make Geoffrey feel comfortable and at ease, capable of having a heart-to-heart about his financial difficulties and his romantic life, Jo questions him brutally without considering his feelings. Her attitude toward his homosexuality—a sexual orientation Geof neither rejects nor confirms—is mocking and offensive, as she considers him an interesting specimen, representative of an entire group, without understanding his individual worth and vulnerability. Geof criticizes such cruel categorizing and Jo’s apology recognizes that she is capable of changing her ways, and that she actually cares about not hurting him.
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Geof begins to look through Jo’s book of drawings and criticizes them, saying that they are too unstructured and sentimental. Jo tries to defend herself, explaining that she likes them, but also seems to take Geoffrey’s comments to heart. Geof tells her she should go to art school, where she could receive guidance. Jo declines but Geof asks her if anyone has ever tried taking care of her. Jo says that her boyfriend did once, but that he lasted only from Christmas to the New Year.
Geof seemingly takes revenge on Jo for her insensitive questioning by criticizing her paintings harshly. At the same time, Geof recognizes that she has talent. His comment about receiving guidance refers to both the intellectual and emotional kind, suggesting that the two go hand in hand. Jo’s lack of either is a sad reminder of the lack of stability and care she has received in her life.
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Geof asks Jo if she loved Jimmie and Jo says that she is not sure what love is, but that love creates and that she is now about to have a baby. Geof, who senses that the young girl is currently in a complicated, troubled situation, tells Jo that she could have an abortion but Jo immediately rejects the idea, finding the very concept dreadful. Geof concludes that Jo shouldn’t be alone during this trying period of her life. He asks her if she has any money but Jo says her wages will only be sufficient to cover her living costs.
Jo has clearly transformed from an innocent young girl who believed in the simple power of love to a young woman concerned primarily with the physical consequences of sexual relations. She is more skeptical about the very concept of love and her ability to recognize it. Her independence also proves limited, as she is aware that she might not be able to live on her own much longer.
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Jo says that she does not want to work much longer because she doesn’t like people staring at her. Noticing Geof’s concern, she tells Geof that he shouldn’t worry about her, but Geof says he likes her. He asks about her mother and Jo gives vague information about Helen’s plan to marry a man and live in a big house. She tells him that she is an unreliable person but that she has a lot of money. Geof says that Jo should take advantage of that, since she needs to buy things for the baby. He even offers to help her himself.
Geof is the first person in Jo’s life who shows an earnest desire to understand her situation and to actually do something about it. The cruelty in Helen’s enjoyment of wealth and privilege while her daughter struggles to live on her own is blatant and leads Geof to take on a quasi-parental role when he offers to help Jo, thus filling in for the absent caregivers in her life.
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Jo does not want to hear Geof’s ideas because she says planning for the baby before it is born brings bad luck. Geof assumes that Jo must be feeling depressed and says that she will soon be herself again, but Jo playfully and energetically replies that her normal self is truly extraordinary. She shares her enthusiasm with Geof, and the two of them celebrate how young and wonderful they both are. Moved by this excitement, Jo asks Geof which alcohol he likes, as though she were about to serve his some, but she finally admits she has none. Instead, she offers him one of the biscuits she is eating.
Despite Jo’s troubles, she manages to draw hope and courage from her youthful self-confidence. In addition, despite the similarity of some of her actions with her mother’s (such as having sex with a man who will leave her and fail to take care of her child), Jo strives to be different from her mother in other ways—for example by refusing to have alcohol in her house. This is a hopeful indication that she might succeed in following a different path from Helen’s.
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Inspired by one of Geof’s exclamations, Jo recites a few rhyming poetic lines in a playful tone, calling her creation a dramatic recitation. Geof then recites a couple of nursery rhymes that Jo enjoys. The second one ends with the following lines: “If I had half a crown a day / I’d gladly spend it on you” and when Jo asks him if he would indeed do that, Geof answers in the affirmative. Geof offers Jo a cigarette but she says she only used to smoke to bother her mother.
Jo and Geof develop a dynamic of mutual encouragement and playfulness, as they enthusiastically respond to each other’s declamations and enjoy celebrating their youth and child-like innocence. In addition to such lightheartedness, Geof seems truly committed to helping Jo financially.
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After joking about buying a car with free coupons that Geof collects, the two decide to go to bed. Jo says that Geof will probably not sleep well on the couch, but both agree that they are beggars in their own ways, and therefore cannot be “choosers.” When Geof begins to undress, Jo tells him he should turn off the light so that she doesn’t make a pass at him. Geof turns off the light.
Jo and Geof dream together about a life of economic independence and freedom, a far cry from their actual situation in which they feel constrained by their financial difficulties. Jo’s jokes about their potentially romantic relationship are ironic, actually revealing that she does not think any romance is possible between them.
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In the dark, Jo then begins to sing a nursery rhyme about a black boy and, when Geof asks about her boyfriend, she says he was black. She describes him as an African prince but then explains he was a nurse in the Navy. Geof asks her if she wishes he were here but she says she is tired of love, and that that is why she asked Geof to stay with her, because she knows he will not try to start a romantic relationship with her. After she concludes that she hates love, the two say good night. Geof says he will stay home from school tomorrow, clean up the apartment, and prepare a meal for Jo. Jo laughs and says he is like a big sister.
Jo jokingly equates Jimmie’s skin color with foreignness and noble exoticism before revealing the young man’s true profession. Her rejection of love is more accurately a rejection of abandonment, since this is the most common consequence of relationships that she has experienced. Her rejection of love can thus be understood as a desire to avoid being hurt once again.
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A few months pass, and Jo and Geof are still living together. While the sound of children’s singing can be heard from outside the apartment, the two complain about the heat and the smell. Jo points to dirty children in the street and Geof says it isn’t their fault, which Jo agrees with, saying that it is their parents’ fault. She notices a boy who is particularly dirty and looks like he might have mental problems and concludes that his mother’s decision to have children brings harm to the world.
While the sound of children’s singing could be associated with innocence and joy, here it is linked to poverty and deprivation. Jo likely derives her conclusion about parents’ responsibility toward their children from her own experience, showing that she probably considers her current situation to be at least partly her mother’s fault.
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 Suddenly, Jo tells Geof the baby has just kicked in her belly. Speaking to her baby, she announces that she is going to look at what Geof is making for them. When she comes close to him, she sees that Geof is making a dress for the baby. Jo wonders at how Geof knows which measurements to use, noting that babies can be born in different sizes. When she describes babies as either dangerously thin or revoltingly fat, she concludes that she finds babies disgusting. Geof is surprised, since he thought motherhood was natural to women, but Jo says that motherhood fits him better, and that he would be a great wife.
It is unclear why Jo finds babies so revolting. Part of her attitude can be understood by the fact that she did not actually choose to have a baby, but has been forced to deal with the consequences of her sexual relations with Jimmie on her own—a situation that might inspire anger and resentment. Jo’s inversion of traditional gender dynamics demonstrates her openness to the myriad ways in which families can express love and care, without having to conform to fixed roles.
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Jo asks Geof why he was talking to the landlady yesterday. Geof tells her he gave her the rent and that the lady will make them a wicker basket to use as a cradle for the baby. Jo does not like the idea of other people interfering with her life and complains about Geof never leaving her alone. Suddenly crying, she throws herself on the couch and says that she wants to drown in the river. Seemingly impatient with Jo’s mood, Geof tells her that the river is dirty and that she should stop pitying herself. He sees Jo’s current emotions as an annoying act. Jo replies that Geof only moved in with her because he has no self-confidence and is afraid of girls laughing at him.
Despite Jo’s experience of feeling abandoned, she paradoxically rejects the opposite behavior: someone actually taking care of her and making sure she has everything she needs. However, it seems that Jo’s reaction is closely linked to her pregnancy and the fact that she does not want to have a baby that she will need to take care of herself. Her attack against Geof is an attempt to transfer her anger and frustration onto someone else.
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Geof tells Jo to keep quiet and to read a book about caring for babies that he got for her. Jo complains about the various tasks involved in raising a child and says that she finds breastfeeding disgusting and cannibalistic. While Geof finds her words inhumane, Jo reaffirms that she truly hates motherhood. However, Geof argues that whatever her feelings might be, she will have to take care of the baby anyway. Changing the subject, Jo says she has a toothache and begins to jokingly annoy Geof, trying to get him to give her a kiss. Still playfully, she asks him if he would like to be the baby’s father and Geoffrey says yes.
Jo’s feelings about her baby are eerily reminiscent of Helen’s lack of interest in taking care of her daughter. By contrast, Geof embraces the various actions that form part of caring for someone, as he seems eager to be a father himself, seeing the parental role as a duty rather than something that people can choose to opt out of. Jo’s teasing of Geof is playfully annoying but remains ambiguous, as it is unclear what Jo is trying to achieve.
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Jo listens to the children singing outside and asks Geof why he is still here, to which Geof replies that someone needs to take care of her. The two of them are quiet for a few seconds and Geof suddenly asks Jo what she would say if he tried to start a romantic relationship with her. Surprised, Jo says that she does not want him, explaining that her decision has nothing to do with thinking that her boyfriend might come back.
Jo’s lack of understanding about Geof’s motives shows that she is not used at all to being part of a caring relationship, in which people stay together not purely out of self-interest but as a desire to accompany the other through life. At the same time, Geof’s apparent desire for a romantic relationship signals that his own motives might not be as clear as he previously has made them seem.
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Geof then grabs hold of Jo’s arm, saying he has never kissed a girl. Despite Jo’s efforts to break loose, Geof ultimately succeeds in kissing her. Jo seems upset and Geof apologizes, but while Jo is trying to explain to him that she doesn’t desire him in a physical way, Geof asks her to marry him. Jo says she doesn’t want to marry anyone but Geof keeps on insisting, saying he is thinking of what is best for her and that he doesn’t mind taking care of somebody else’s baby. Finally, seeing that Jo is truly not interested in marrying him, he makes a sarcastic comment about the fact she probably didn’t struggle when she made love to her boyfriend. Jo replies that things might have turned out better if she had.
Geof’s brutal attitude toward Jo is striking not only because he is usually a gentle individual and such use of strength to force Jo to kiss him seems out of character, but also because of his presumed homosexuality. His motives for wanting to marry Jo remain ambiguous. Perhaps he does actually believe that he loves Jo romantically, or perhaps he longs for the stability that a married relationship brings. Either way, his behavior and his insensitive comment about Jo and Jimmie shows him capable of resentment and viciousness. The repeated insistence on marriage also appears to echo Jimmie’s repeated proposals.
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After forcing Geof to accept a piece of chocolate, Jo tells him that he should probably leave, saying that leaving would be better for him and that they cannot stay together forever. However, Geof says he would rather die than be separated from her and Jo is shocked to realize that he actually means it. Geof explains that living with her has given him a sense of purpose in life, whereas he used to feel lost and apathetic. Geof tries to convince her to let him stay and, after going to lie down in her bedroom, Jo concludes it might indeed not be necessary for them to separate.
Jo does not seem to harbor hostility toward her friend, but does have enough lucidity and self-respect to see that living with someone who might be in love with her is not healthy nor sustainable. At the same time, it becomes apparent that Geof’s desire to stay with Jo might not actually be romantic, but rather can be seen as an expression of despair, of his fear—similar, perhaps, to Jo’s—of being lonely and abandoned.
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Helen suddenly enters the apartment, loudly asking for Jo and calling Geof Romeo, while Geof, in a meek, submissive tone, begs Helen not to tell Jo that he asked her to come. Helen enters Jo’s bedroom and Jo immediately asks her who told her to come, which Helen refuses to answer. Helen initially believes that Geof is Jo’s boyfriend, but Jo reveals that their relationship is not sexual. Jo keeps on asking her mother for information about who asked her to come. Finally, Jo turns to Geoffrey, angrily telling him she warned him not to interfere in her life, and ironically asking him if he thinks he is running a “Back to Mother” movement. While Geof defends himself by saying that Helen has a right to know about her pregnancy, Jo says she doesn’t consider her mother to have any rights in relation to her.
Jo’s anger at her mother and at Geof reveals her strong rejection of any interference in her life. With regards to her mother, this can be understood in light of the repeated disappointments she has been made to feel, and the fact that her current independence has been hard earned. Her anger at Geof seemingly projects onto him the diffidence that she feels toward her mother, but also emphasizes that Geof has not listened to what she actually wants—acting, instead, based on what he believes is best for Jo. In both cases, Geof and Helen fail to take Jo’s opinions into account.
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Geof complains to Helen that Jo never leaves the apartment, which is the main reason he asked for Helen’s help. Instead of showing concern, Helen says that she cannot do anything about this and has no obligation toward her child. Shocked by such visible lack of interest in her daughter’s life, Geof tries to argue that Helen should care for her, but Helen explains that she has never been able to handle Jo. Helen then mockingly calls Geof a “nursemaid” and expresses her disapproval of their partnership. While Jo tells Geof her mother’s harsh words are his own fault, since he invited her, she also tells her mother that she has no right to make judgments about her life.
Geof’s well-intentioned action soon fails miserably, as Helen immediately overturns any expectations he might have had of her duties as a mother and is confronted with the full-blown violence of her lack of caring. In addition, Helen mocks Geof’s seemingly woman-like mode of being, thus revealing her paradoxical rejection of sexual or gender-based behavior that does not conform to the norm—despite her own embrace of non-traditional sexual relationships in her personal life.
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Helen makes ironic comments about Jo’s boyfriend’s absence and Geof, in turn, attacks Helen for being gone for a long time as well, but both Helen and Jo angrily tell Geoffrey to stay out of their fight. Helen then looks at her daughter and makes affectionate comments about the size of her stomach. She asks Geof if Jo is getting medical attention and if she is working. When Geof repeats that Jo isn’t, Helen says that Jo should work instead of living off of him, but Geof and Jo contradict her, saying that they share everything. Irritated by her mother’s disapproving comments, Jo tells her to return to her fancy man, who might be cheating on her at this very moment, and Helen threatens to beat her for her insolence.
Helen’s character is highly volatile, as she shifts from one tone to the next, alternating between irony, tenderness, and disapproval in the space of a few moments. The two women’s desire for Geof to stay out of their fight paradoxically reveals the strength of their bond, even if it tends to express itself as violent antagonism. It also seems to reflect in Act 1 when Helen defended Jo to Peter—again effectively not letting a man fight with them the way they fight with each other. While Geof might play an important role in Jo’s everyday life, her pregnancy is ultimately an issue between her mother and her—a pattern that announces Geof’s later ejection from the apartment.
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Helen chases Jo through the room while attacking her verbally for the dreadful situation she has put herself in, but Jo says that she will get out of it on her own. In an increasingly fast-paced series of exchanges, Helen criticizes Jo for accepting the first man she saw and Jo says she is exactly like her mother. Helen then tells Jo people are calling her a whore, but Jo merely replies she is like her mother in that sense. When Helen tries to grab Jo to give her a beating, Geof tries to intervene, but the two women keep threatening and provoking each other. Helen mentions that she should have had an abortion instead of having Jo. Finally, when Jo threatens to throw herself out the window if Helen doesn’t leave, the two calm down and the fighting stops.
Helen’s anger at Jo’s situation demonstrates that she is not as detached as she may seem, but actually cares about what happens to Jo—even if her manner of showing interest in Jo’s life often expresses itself as anger and violence. The women’s fight over the term “whore” shows once again that this pregnancy is not merely Jo’s problem to solve, but that it ties the two of them together in an intimate, if unpleasant way. What Jo is experiencing is, in many ways, the reflection of her mother’s own way of living. It is also opportunity to provoke Helen to take care of her daughter for once.
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Geof tells the women to stop yelling, to which Helen replies that they enjoy it. Helen proceeds to give Jo a speech about the importance of being independent and self-reliant. She tells Jo that she should not pity herself and deplore the tragedy of her life; instead, she should begin to care for herself without relying on Geof, whom Helen calls a “pansified little freak.” While Jo tries to defend Geof, he complains that he wouldn’t have asked Helen to come if he’d known how she was going to treat Jo. Irritated by Geof’s interventions, both Helen and Jo tell Geof to leave, and he finally leaves the room to go make some tea.
While it is unclear whether the two women actually enjoy such fighting, since these episodes have affected Jo deeply in the past, Helen’s comment shows that she, at least, considers such fighting relatively innocuous—or that she merely wants Geof to stop interrupting them. Helen’s speech about self-reliance is highly hypocritical, since she has effectively forced Jo to be independent ever since she left her for Peter, thus leading Jo to rely on Geof—the very person that Helen attacks.
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After Geof leaves, Helen laments Jo’s thinness and, in a pacifying voice, tells her that she didn’t come here to fight but to bring her money. After Jo refuses, Helen concludes that she will leave it on the table. Angry and upset, Jo criticizes Helen’s absence and this sudden “famous mother-love act,” but Helen defends herself by saying that she has been worrying about Jo and that she plans to send her money regularly. Unconvinced, Jo says that Helen will forget and Helen herself admits that she is indeed terrible at remembering things. When Helen tries to say that she has a motherly responsibility toward her daughter, Jo lashes out at her, reminding Helen that she forgot about her as soon as she left to go live with Peter. Ignoring this comment, Helen asks why Jo didn’t tell her about her pregnancy, and Jo replies that Helen doesn’t mean anything to her.
Despite Helen’s earlier claim of not feeling any sense of responsibility toward her daughter, she seems sincere in wanting to leave Jo money—a contradictory behavior that is difficult to understand. She seems more willing to assist Jo from afar and give her financial help than actually be a regular, reliable presence in Jo’s life. Helen’s final question about why Jo did not share the news of her pregnancy with her implies that she still believes her daughter trusts in her, even as her behavior has so often generated disappointment. Jo’s reply insists on remembering the weight of Helen’s past actions, forcing her mother to acknowledge the consequences of her actions.
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Peter then enters the apartment, drunk, aggressive, and angry at having to wait for Helen outside in such a dirty neighborhood. While Helen replies equally aggressively, telling him to go back outside to wait for her, Peter makes fun of Jo’s pregnancy and sings a song about being a big girl. When he sees Geof and assumes he is the father of Jo’s baby, he is appalled at the idea. Peter sings another song about pregnancy and Helen tells him to leave Jo alone.
The relationship between Peter and Helen has clearly deteriorated. Helen’s attempts to defend Jo against him also show how the situation has changed since Peter first met Jo, when Helen would participate in ridiculing or attacking her daughter. Now, she seems determined to at least stand up for her daughter.
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Still singing, Peter goes into the kitchen to look for drinks, crashes into objects, and re-enters the room. He mocks Helen’s appearance, ultimately calling her a “sour-faced old bitch” and asking her to come out for drinks. Jo tries to kick him but Peter threatens her to attack her as well and then calls Geof “Mary” and begins to tell a dirty story. While Helen and Jo both try to make him keep quiet, Peter mockingly tells the story of Oedipus’s incestuous relationship with his mother, which results in him tearing his eyes out. Peter establishes a parallel between this story and his own, saying that he only tore one of his eyes out.
The relationship between Helen and Peter is fraught with aggression and violence, as well as an excessive indulgence in drinking. It lacks the love and respect that one might expect from a married relationship. Like Helen, Peter also makes fun of Geof for his supposedly feminine attitude. His vulgar, sexual recounting of the classical story of Oedipus confirms once again that he is primarily interested in the basest aspects of life.
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Helen calls Peter a drunkard and tells him to leave. When Peter notices that Helen is giving his money to Jo, however, he takes it back and finally exits the apartment to look for the bathroom, still singing and crashing into objects on his way out. Jo tells Geof to go with Peter for his own safety. After Geof leaves, Helen offers Jo a cigarette, which she keeps for Geof.
Peter confirms his inability to think beyond his own self-interest when he refuses to give Jo money. This reveals that his mocking attitude toward the entire situation actually keeps him from realizing how serious Jo’s problems are, and how much she could benefit from some financial help.
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Jo chats with her mother about Peter’s state, asking her how long he has been like this, but Helen changes the subject and asks what Geof works in. Jo says he is an art student and Helen asks if he lives in this apartment but Jo refuses to answer Helen’s questions if she doesn’t answer her own. Helen criticizes Jo’s disheveled appearance, saying she should have more pride in herself, but Jo makes an ironic comment about Helen, insinuating that pride has led her to an immoral, unstable life.
Jo once again takes on the role of the adult when she inquires about Helen’s health and well-being, implying that Peter is an alcoholic and that the situation is visibly out of control. Helen’s inability to share her feelings with Jo reveals her emotional impenetrability. She seems capable of answering honest concerns only with irony and aggression, attacking Jo instead of reflecting on her own situation.
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Taking on a more sincere, compassionate tone, Helen asks Jo to come stay with her, but Jo refuses, which leads Helen to attack her, mocking her for choosing to stay with the “pansified little freak.” Geof, who has returned, asks if he should leave and Helen pretends she hadn’t noticed his presence. Jo asks Geof if he believes he would go live with Helen if he were in Jo’s shoes and Geof says he wouldn’t. He comments that he was surprised to discover that Helen was just as terrible a person as Jo had painted her to be. Exasperated, Helen tries to convince Jo that she is sincerely offering her a better place to live.
Helen seems, in part, truly concerned for Jo’s well-being, but also motivated by a feeling of rivalry; she attacks Jo for choosing to stay with Geof instead of coming with her, thereby highlighting the difference in trust and cooperation between the two relationships. Despite Helen’s seemingly heartfelt proposition, Jo clearly stands by Geof’s side, emphasizing her independence and her desire to keep on living on her own.
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Peter then enters the apartment again, more sober but also more hostile. Helen keeps offering to take care of Jo, but Jo argues that her mother should have done so years ago, when she needed it the most. Helen acknowledges this but wants Jo to think about present necessities. However, Peter interrupts the conversation, calling Jo a “bloody slut” and saying that he does not want her in his home. Helen tries to counter his words by saying that half of the house belongs to her, but Peter says he can kick her out anytime. He adds that he does not want Geof—whom he calls a “fruitcake parcel”—either, saying he cannot stand people like him.
Helen’s refusal to talk about the past makes her current proposals less credible. Without addressing her prior indifference, her desire to take care of Jo now does not seem any more reliable than her previous behavior. In fact, Helen has already admitted that she might not remember to send Jo money regularly. Helen’s current situation is also clearly precarious, and it remains uncertain whether she actually is in a position to help Jo, even if only financially.
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Helen says that she does not want Jo to stay in such a repulsive neighborhood but Geof intervenes, arguing that the people are nice, at least, and that Jo is happier with him. Helen tells Geof to shut up, arguing that she knows what is best for her daughter. Impatient, Peter complains about the filth of this apartment and says he wants to leave, adding that, if Helen wants to stay in this disgusting place he once saved her from, she is free to. While Helen initially says she is going to stay and lets Peter leave, she begins to hesitate and asks Jo if she wants her to stay with her. Jo says no and Helen finally leaves, following Peter, after quickly promising Jo to send her money and telling Geof that Jo should receive medical care and eat properly.
Geof’s passive aggressive comment about how agreeable people are in the neighborhood serves as an attack against Helen, who clearly is not a particularly friendly person. Both Geof and Helen seem intent on arguing about what is best for Jo, thus revealing that part of the dispute revolves around their own competition. Helen’s concern for Jo is cut short when she faces personal consequences, such as losing Peter, and it becomes obvious once again that Helen is not actually interested in a long-term commitment toward her daughter.
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After Peter and Helen leave, Geof is at least relieved that Helen has left Jo money but Jo explains that Peter took it away. She hands Geof a cigarette, calling him “love,” and Geof is suddenly excited because he didn’t have any cigarettes left.
This tender scene highlights the spirit of kindness and cooperation that Jo and Geof share, despite their economic difficulties. It also underscores their well-being as partners, in stark contrast to Helen and Peter.
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