Our Country’s Good


Timberlake Wertenbaker

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

On the beach that night, Mary practices her lines by herself, rehearsing a love scene between her character and the play’s primary love interest. Before long, Ralph approaches and starts doing the scene with her. When the two characters kiss, Mary and Ralph embrace and then repeat the intimacy before stopping and deciding to try it again. This soon turns into a real kiss, and Mary begins to take off her clothes. “I’ve never looked at the body of a woman before,” Ralph admits, and when Mary asks if he’s ever seen his wife without clothes, he says, “It wasn’t right to look at her. Let me see you.” She says, “Yes. Let me see you,” and he too starts taking off his clothes.
Unlike the other relationships in Our Country’s Good, Ralph and Mary fall in love in an organic, natural way. Neither of them wants to get anything from the other, and the fact that Ralph has until this point been so against the idea of having an affair with one of the convicts confirms that he’s acting on legitimately strong romantic feelings, not a fleeting attraction. In fact, it seems that his feelings for Mary are the first truly romantic feelings he’s ever had, considering that he never felt comfortable seeing his wife naked. As such, Wertenbaker presents the audience with one of the play’s healthiest relationships, though even this romantic connection is complicated by the power imbalance between Mary and Ralph.
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