Pinkie decides to pay Prewitt a visit. He supposes that the old lawyer will be Ida’s next target. Prewitt lives on a street that parallels the railway. It’s dusty and loud. There’s a scowling woman with a bitter face staring out at Pinkie from a basement window. He found out recently that the woman is Prewitt’s wife. Pinkie demands to be seen, even though a servant girl has told him that Prewitt is indisposed and won’t come out. He waits in Prewitt’s office where empty file boxes rumble every time a train goes by. Music drifts through the open window and Pinkie asks the servant girl to shut it. She leaves without doing so. Eventually, Prewitt appears, smiling broadly through pain. He has indigestion.
Prewitt’s living conditions are almost as pathetic as Brewer’s. Instead of a sick wife, though, he has a bitter one. Pinkie’s visit to Prewitt shows that he is taking Ida’s investigation somewhat seriously. Still, he calls on Prewitt without notifying him first and without the benefit of a firm plan for how to deal with Ida, should she try to intimidate the old lawyer. Music at this moment is particularly bothersome. Pinkie does not want to be distracted by sentiment when he is trying to talk Prewitt into leaving town.
Pinkie asks if the music coming from the neighbor’s apartment ever ceases. Prewitt bangs on the wall and his neighbor turns the radio off angrily. Pinkie asks Prewitt if anyone has come around asking questions about Spicer. Prewitt looks even sicker. He tells Pinkie he’s lucky; he will probably hang for his crimes. Prewitt, on the other hand, will rot. Pinkie is uncomfortable, seeing the old lawyer look so vulnerable. Prewitt tells Pinkie’s he’s ruined. When he took on Pinkie as a client, he lost his only other one, a bank, and now Pinkie will soon be ruined, too, run out of business by Colleoni, who has his own, much more high-powered attorney.
The music is getting close to making Pinkie feel compassion for Prewitt, whose ruin is mostly Pinkie’s fault. That said, Prewitt made a deal with the devil when he took on Pinkie. Now he is reaping the rewards of that deal. Prewitt makes a distinction between his likely fate and Pinkie’s here. Pinkie, he says, might be put to death for his crimes. Prewitt, on the other hand, will rot slowly, a worse outcome by far.
Pinkie sees that Prewitt is drunk. The old man begins to unburden himself. Pinkie listens against his will. Prewitt bemoans the fact that he married beneath him. He’d felt passion for his wife at one time. That was why he married her. Now, he calls her “the mole” and “that hag” and claims that she’s ruined him. He quotes Dr. Faustus, saying, “Why, this is Hell, nor are we out of it.” He points to a picture of a boy’s public school class to show Pinkie just how far he has fallen. To think, Prewitt says, that his only client is a gangster and that he is married to a hideous woman. He’d had much greater ambitions than this.
Like Hale and Pinkie, Prewitt is a victim of his own pride. He is full of self-hatred because he never achieved in his life what he thought he was capable of, and now he spends his days feeling sorry for himself and despising his wife, whom he blames for his lowly state. The Faustus quotation is applicable to Pinkie as well. Following Hale’s murder, Pinkie entered a Hell of his own making.
Pinkie wishes Prewitt would stop talking. He doesn’t like having to consider what life is like for any man but himself. He offers Prewitt some money to take a holiday, maybe to Boulogne. Prewitt confesses that sometimes he considers exposing himself in a park. Mostly, though, he just watches the young typists walk by. He agrees to take Pinkie’s money and make himself scarce. Pinkie leaves, meeting Prewitt’s wife on the stairs. She seems to be looking out at him from her cave. Once outside, Pinkie glances up at Prewitt who is standing at his window, staring out blankly. There are no typists to see on a Sunday.
Prewitt had come across to Pinkie and the others as a competent and successful lawyer. Pinkie now knows that he is an ineffectual, self-pitying old man with deviant sexual appetites. Mrs. Prewitt’s looking out of her cave echoes the scene in which Ida tells Rose that Pinkie is only pursuing her to avoid prosecution. Rose, too, was like a small rodent, staring out at a wider world.