On the Face of It


Susan Hill

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On the Face of It: Scene Three Summary & Analysis

Back at the garden, Mr. Lamb is on his ladder, shaking a branch of the crab apple tree so that the fruit falls to the ground. Suddenly his ladder falls back and Lamb crashes to the ground, where he lies motionless.
This is the hypothetical situation that Derry described earlier—Mr. Lamb could fall off his ladder, and if he were “on [his] own” no one would find him and help him. The question now is whether or not Lamb really is on his own—if Derry will come back.
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Just then Derry rushes up, stating that he has come back, despite Mr. Lamb’s doubts. Then he sees Mr. Lamb’s body and stops short. Derry kneels beside him, saying, “I came back. Lamey-Lamb. I did…come back.” Derry starts to cry.
It’s not stated whether or not Mr. Lamb has survived his fall, but either way this is a tragic finale to the play. Both characters found a brief moment of connection with each other, but now they are separated again by an accident (Lamb’s fall) and society’s restrictions (Derry’s mother). It’s also important that Derry calls Lamb “Lamey-Lamb” in this poignant moment, using the name that others used to taunt the old man as a term of endearment. This signals a shift in Derry’s perspective on disability, and hopefully in his own self-esteem. He starts to recognize that he can both have a burned face and be a valuable and worthwhile human being, and can even embrace his disability as part of himself.
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