In his office, Frank tells Rita that Julia was upset that Rita and Denny never came to the dinner party, since there were places set for them. Rita explains that Denny “went mad” when she told him about the invitation. Nonetheless, she resolved to go without him, but as she approached Frank’s house, she saw him and his guests through the window and couldn’t work up the nerve to go inside. Worrying about what she would talk about with such educated people—and self-conscious about the low-quality wine she brought—she turned around. Frank finds this ridiculous, insisting that his guests would have found her “funny, delightful,” and “charming.” In response, Rita tells him she doesn’t want to be seen as “funny.” “I wanna talk seriously with the rest of you,” she says.
The fact that Frank can’t imagine why Rita would feel out of place at his dinner party suggests that he’s ignorant of the difficulties that come along with attaining upward mobility. Indeed, Rita thinks she’ll be out of place at the party, but Frank simply tells her she’s “funny, delightful,” and “charming,” ultimately failing to grasp that none of these compliments will make Rita feel like a valid member of his elite group. Instead, these compliments imply that Rita would have been a source of entertainment.
Rita tells Frank that she didn’t want to go to his house “just to play the court jester.” This enrages Frank, who says, “If you believe that that’s why you were invited, to be laughed at, then you can get out of here right now. You were invited because I wished to have your company.” Responding to this, Rita says, “I can’t talk to the people I live with any more. An’ I can’t talk to the likes of them on Saturday, or them out there, because I can’t learn the language. I’m an alien.” Feeling this way, she explains, she went to the pub and found Denny and her mother singing jukebox songs and getting drunk.
It becomes clear in this scene that Rita is straddled between two social classes. Embarking upon a journey of personal growth, she feels as if she’s outgrown her working-class background. At the same time, though, she doesn’t yet feel capable of fitting into the aristocratic sphere of intellectuals she wants so badly to join. Because it’s harder to project herself into a new environment, she goes to the pub with Denny and tries to revert to her old way of life.
Continuing her story about Saturday night, Rita says that she stood in the pub and wondered what, exactly, she’s trying to do by getting an education. She wondered why she won’t just quit and rejoin people like Denny and her mother, spending her time singing in pubs and getting drunk. “And why don’t you?” asks Frank. Frustrated by this question, Rita makes it clear that she can’t simply go back to living the existence she once led. She says that her mother got so drunk that night she started crying. When Rita asked her mother why she was crying, her mother said, “Because we could sing better songs than those.” Despite this, though, she was back to singing and laughing with Denny ten minutes later and acting like she’d never said such a thing. “But she had,” Rita says. “And that’s why I came back. And that’s why I’m staying.”
Rita’s story about her drunk mother on Saturday night aligns with her own belief that the people from her working-class background aren’t content with life. Her mother confirms this notion when she says that she could “sing better songs” than the ones playing on the pub’s jukebox. However, she quickly goes back to singing those same songs, illustrating just how difficult it is to make a change in one’s life. Having seen her mother ignore her unhappiness, Rita is determined to never let go of her resolve to gain an education and thus improve her sense of self-worth.