Joe Turner’s Come and Gone


August Wilson

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Joe Turner’s Come and Gone: Act Two: Scene Four Summary & Analysis

The next morning, Zonia and Reuben are playing outside when Reuben says he saw Bynum the previous night “singing and talking to the wind.” He claims that the wind was talking back to Bynum, and then tells Zonia he saw a ghost that very morning. Apparently, he saw Seth’s mother’s spirit, who told him that he has to honor the promise he made to Eugene about letting the pigeons free. “Didn’t you promise Eugene something?” she said, hitting him with her cane. “Let them pigeons go,” she ordered. The two children consider whether or not this old woman was an angel sent by Eugene, and Reuben delights at the idea that perhaps Eugene will be able to come back himself. “My daddy say if you miss somebody too much it can kill you,” Zonia says.
As the play nears its final act, it’s no surprise that Reuben is encouraged to set Eugene’s pigeons free. Indeed, the idea of letting these cooped-up creatures out into the open is symbolic of Herald Loomis’s search for personal freedom and independence, which seems to be inching ever closer toward liberation as he slowly unburdens himself of the secrets of his past. 
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Reuben asks Zonia when she and Herald will be leaving, and she tells him they’re getting kicked out on Saturday. Reuben is disappointed to hear this, saying that sometimes it feels like “nothing ever stay the same.” He then admits that by his own inexperienced estimation, he thinks he’ll be her husband when they grow up. He asks if he can kiss her, and she says he can. Afterward, they kiss again and Reuben puts his head against her chest and listens to her heartbeat. “When I get grown, I come looking for you,” he says before the lights fade. 
When Reuben complains that “nothing ever stay[s] the same,” he indicates his awareness of the fact that he lives in a community marked by transience. Indeed, he’s surrounded by people who move in and out of his life, stopping at Seth’s boarding house only for short periods at a time before leaving for new horizons. This is undoubtedly why he promises to “come looking for” Zonia when he’s an adult—rather than declaring that he’ll stay by her side no matter what, he accepts her departure as an inevitability. As such, telling her that he’ll track her down later in life is an ultimate pronouncement of love and commitment, a sentiment Reuben has surely seen modeled by the many residents of Seth’s boarding house, many of whom set off in search of lost lovers.
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