Back at the hotel, Leonard has put Jacky to bed. Helen begins to second-guess her whole enterprise but believes that no harm has been done. Leonard thanks her for working everything out with Margaret and Henry. Helen wants to discuss theories of personal responsibility, but Leonard has become jaded and weary of intellectual talk that is no help to him.
Helen starts to suspect that she might not have acted in the Basts’ best interest by seizing the opportunity to confront Henry. Leonard is grateful for her help, both of them still happily unaware that there’s little chance Henry will help Leonard anymore, knowing he’s married to Henry’s old mistress. Even believing that things will work out, Leonard has lost all his former enthusiasm for intellectual discussion, knowing it’s pointless to his survival.
Nonetheless, Leonard tries his best to accommodate “his benefactress.” Helen asks him about Jacky, and why his marriage is unhappy. He admits, “I needn’t have married her, but as I have I must stick to her and keep her.” He says that his family cut him off when he married her, and leaves Helen to guess why. She understands, and says, “I blame not your wife for these things, but men.” He tells her how badly he just wants “work—something regular to do,” and then he can be content with his lot. Helen is upset to hear that he has lost interest in books and adventure, but his grim financial collapse has made him cynical, and he observes, “one must have money … the real thing’s money.” Helen denies this, bringing up “Death”—something she believes reveals “the emptiness of Money.” Leonard, preoccupied with his employment anxieties, cannot follow her theory.
Leonard demonstrates his loyalty and personal integrity by refusing to abandon Jacky. Henry rarely feels personal responsibility for anything, and shows no remorse for exploiting Jacky and leaving her in a desperate situation. However, Leonard feels a keen sense of personal responsibility towards a vulnerable woman whom he never wronged to begin with. Leonard has sacrificed his family relationships and his chance at greater self-fulfillment in order to take care of Jacky. Now he is as desperate as she once was, and cannot be bothered with any principles. Ironically, his poverty has brought him far closer to death than Helen has ever been, and his experience proves her wrong.