Cubitt and Dallow are toasting Pinkie’s betrothal in his room at Frank’s boarding house. Cubitt and Dallow are a little drunk. Frank’s wife, Judy, comes by to wish Pinkie good luck. She’d been washing her bra. It drips on the floor. No one offers her a drink, so she leaves. Pinkie thinks about all he’s had to sacrifice to keep them all out of trouble and wonders what else he might have to do in the future.
The toast is insincere. Everyone, including Judy, knows that Pinkie is only marrying Rose to shut her up. The men never refer to Judy (who, it is later revealed, is having an affair with Dallow) as a polony, as they do with other women; they merely act as if she’s invisible.
Pinkie surprises Cubitt and Dallow by demanding a beer. He tells them he just might become a drinking and a marrying man. He pounds the beer and talks of Rose, telling both men how classy and intelligent she is, how he’s marrying for her sake but laying her for his. As he talks, he thinks of how Dallow knows far too much about him, much more than Spicer. He begins to hate Dallow for that. Dallow says he remembers seeing Rose on the pier and that she wasn’t all that great. Pinkie grows angry and defends Rose. It’s almost as if he loves her.
By drinking the beer, the teetotaling Pinkie is signaling his willingness to change, but all he’s really revealing is his youth and inexperience. Drinking one beer does not make him a different man. He will always be full of hatred and suspicion. At one time, he thought Dallow his most loyal friend. Now he is growing to despise him. His feigned pride in and love for Rose are equally precarious.
Cubitt and Dallow try to keep things light. They give him a couple gag gifts for his wedding. Growing more furious, Pinkie tells Cubitt he’ll fix him the same way he fixed Spicer. Cubitt is confused. He thought Spicer died because of the faulty stair rail. Cubitt asks if it’s true that Pinkie killed Spicer, but he doesn’t wait for an answer. He tells Pinkie he’s done and he’ll find someone else to work for. Pinkie tells Dallow to go, too, but Dallow refuses. Pinkie says, mostly to himself, that he can do anything and men will always come tumbling back to him. He orders Dallow to get Prewitt on the phone and get everything ready for the wedding. Then he lays down on his bed and tries to picture what peace might look like. All he can see is endless gray going on for miles.
Pinkie has grown too sure of his own abilities and power and commits and act of hubris when he threatens Cubitt with Spicer’s fate. Pinkie assumes that his men are so loyal he can get away with anything, but Cubitt’s reaction proves him wrong. Pinkie is unable to imagine a life of peace because his has always been one of violence. Violence excites him. To him, it is the equivalent of Ida’s “bit of life.” In contrast, peace would seem like unremitting sameness.