Our Country’s Good


Timberlake Wertenbaker

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Our Country’s Good: Act Two, Scene Eight Summary & Analysis

Harry is gravely ill in his tent. It is night, and Duckling is by his side, trying desperately to rouse him. She tells him that she’ll stop being silent around him if he lives and that she won’t ignore him or think about someone else when they have sex. “If you live, I will stay with you,” she says. “If you live, I will be wet and open to your touch. If you live, I will answer all your questions. If you live, I will look at you. If you live, I will love you.” After a moment, she says, “If you die, I will never forgive you.” Once she’s said this, she leans close and realizes that he’s dead. “I hate you. No. I love you,” she laments, curling up and crying, “How could you do this?”
In her short but impassioned monologue, Duckling tries to bribe Harry into staying alive. Although he obviously doesn’t have much control over whether or not he dies of an illness, this rhetorical approach aligns with their overall relational dynamic, since they’re both used to treating their romantic connection as a transaction. What Duckling wants in this moment is to be reassured that Harry will remain alive, so she offers her body. The fact that she actually says she loves him is worth noting too, since it suggests that their relationship is perhaps more complicated than it seems, again showing that relationships founded upon power imbalances are emotionally fraught and difficult to navigate.
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