The American Dream

by

Edward Albee

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Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Plume edition of The American Dream published in 1997.
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The American Dream Quotes

MOMMY: I don’t know what can be keeping them.

DADDY: They’re late, naturally.

MOMMY: Of course, they’re late; it never fails.

DADDY: That’s the way things are today, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

MOMMY: You’re quite right.

DADDY: When we took this apartment, they were quick enough to have me sign the lease; they were quick enough to take my check for two months’ rent in advance… […] But now! But now, try to get the icebox fixed, try to get the doorbell fixed, try to get the leak in the johnny fixed! […]

MOMMY: Of course not; it never fails. People think they can get away with anything these days…

Related Characters: Mommy (speaker), Daddy (speaker)
Page Number: 57-58
Explanation and Analysis:

GRANDMA: I didn’t really like wrapping them; it hurt my fingers, and it frightened me. But it had to be done.

Related Characters: Grandma (speaker), Mommy, Daddy
Related Symbols: Grandma’s Boxes
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

DADDY: I think we should talk about it some more. Maybe we’ve been hasty… a little hasty, perhaps. (Doorbell rings again) I’d like to talk about it some more.

MOMMY: There’s no need. You made up your mind; you were firm; you were masculine and decisive. […]

DADDY: Was I firm about it?

MOMMY: Oh, so firm; so firm.

DADDY: And I was decisive?

MOMMY: SO decisive! Oh, I shivered.

DADDY: And masculine? Was I really masculine?

MOMMY: Oh, Daddy, you were so masculine; I shivered and fainted. […]

DADDY: (Backing off from the door) Maybe we can send them away.

MOMMY: Oh, look at you! You’re turning into jelly; you’re indecisive; you’re a woman.

Related Characters: Mommy (speaker), Daddy (speaker)
Page Number: 74-75
Explanation and Analysis:

MRS. BARKER: Can we assume that the boxes are for us? I mean, can we assume that you had us come here for the boxes?

MOMMY: Are you in the habit of receiving boxes?

DADDY: A very good question.

MRS. BARKER: Well, that would depend on the reason we’re here. I’ve got my fingers in so many little pies, you know.

Related Characters: Mommy (speaker), Daddy (speaker), Mrs. Barker (speaker), Grandma
Related Symbols: Grandma’s Boxes
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

MOMMY: All his life, Daddy has wanted to be a United States Senator; but now…why now he’s changed his mind, and for the rest of his life he’s going to want to be Governor…it would be nearer the apartment, you know.

Related Characters: Mommy (speaker), Daddy, Mrs. Barker
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

MOMMY: Oh, I’m so fortunate to have such a husband. Just think; I could have a husband who was poor, or argumentative, or a husband who sat in a wheel chair all day… OOOOHHHH! What have I said? What have I said?

GRANDMA: You said you could have a husband who sat in a wheel…

MOMMY: I’m mortified! I could die! I could cut my tongue out! I could…

MRS. BARKER (forcing a smile): Oh, now… now… don’t think about it…

Related Characters: Mommy (speaker), Grandma (speaker), Mrs. Barker (speaker), Daddy
Page Number: 92-93
Explanation and Analysis:

MRS. BARKER: Please tell me why they called and asked us to come. I implore you!

GRANDMA: Oh my; that feels good. It’s been so long since anybody implored me. Do it again. Implore me some more.

MRS. BARKER: You’re your daughter’s mother, all right!

GRANDMA: Oh, I don’t mean to be hard. If you won’t implore me, then beg me, or ask me, or entreat me… just anything like that.

MRS. BARKER: You’re a dreadful old woman!

GRANDMA: You’ll understand some day. Please!

Related Characters: Grandma (speaker), Mrs. Barker (speaker), Mommy
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

GRANDMA: Weeeeellll . . . in the first place, it turned out the bumble didn’t look like either one of its parents. That was enough of a blow, but things got worse. One night, it cried its heart out, if you can imagine such a thing.

MRS. BARKER: Cried its heart out! Well!

GRANDMA: But that was only the beginning. Then it turned out it only had eyes for its Daddy.

MRS. BARKER: For its Daddy! Why, any self-respecting woman would have gouged those eyes right out of its head.

GRANDMA: Well, she did. That’s exactly what she did. But then, it kept its nose up in the air.

MRS. BARKER: Ufggh! How disgusting!

GRANDMA: That’s what they thought. But then, it began to develop an interest in its you-know-what.

MRS. BARKER: In its you-know-what! Well! I hope they cut its hands off at the wrists!

GRANDMA: Well, yes, they did that eventually. But first, they cut off its you-know-what.

Related Characters: Grandma (speaker), Mrs. Barker (speaker), Mommy, Daddy
Page Number: 99-100
Explanation and Analysis:

GRANDMA: My, my, aren’t you something!

YOUNG MAN: Hm?

GRANDMA: I said, my, my, aren’t you something.

YOUNG MAN: Oh. Thank you.

GRANDMA: You don’t sound very enthusiastic.

YOUNG MAN: Oh, I’m… I’m used to it.

GRANDMA: Yup . . . yup. You know, if I were about a hundred and fifty years younger I could go for you.

YOUNG MAN: Yes, I imagine so.

Related Characters: Grandma (speaker), The Young Man (speaker)
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

GRANDMA: Boy, you know what you are, don’t you? You’re the American Dream, that’s what you are. All those other people, they don’t know what they’re talking about. You . . . you are the American Dream.

Related Characters: Grandma (speaker), The Young Man
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

YOUNG MAN: I have suffered losses . . . that I can’t ex­plain. A fall from grace . . . a departure of innocence . . . […] Once ... it was as if all at once my heart. . . became numb . . . almost as though I . . . almost as though . . . just like that . . . it had been wrenched from my body . . . and from that time I have been un­able to love. Once […] I awoke, and my eyes were burning. And since that time I have been unable to see anything, anything, with pity, with affection . . . with anything but . . . cool disinterest.

Related Characters: The Young Man (speaker), Mommy, Daddy, Grandma
Page Number: 114-115
Explanation and Analysis:

YOUNG MAN: I have no emotions. I have been drained, torn asunder… disemboweled. I have, now, only my per­son… my body, my face. I use what I have... I let people love me…I accept the syntax around me, for while I know I cannot relate... I know I must be related to. I let people love me… I let people touch me… I let them draw pleasure from my groin… from my presence… from the fact of me… but, that is all it comes to.

Related Characters: The Young Man (speaker), Mommy, Daddy, Grandma
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

YOUNG MAN: All the boxes are outside.

GRANDMA (a little sadly): I don’t know why I bother to take them with me. They don’t have much in them… some old letters, a couple of regrets… Pekinese… blind at that… the television… my Sunday teeth… eighty-six years of living… some sounds… a few images, a little garbled by now… and, well… (she shrugs) …you know… the things one accumulates.

Related Characters: Grandma (speaker), The Young Man (speaker)
Related Symbols: Grandma’s Boxes
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

MOMMY: Why… where’s Grandma? Grandma’s not here! Where’s Grandma? And look! The boxes are gone, too. […]

MRS. BARKER: Why, Mommy, the van man was here. […]

MOMMY (Near tears): No, no, that’s impossible. No. There’s no such thing as the van man. […] We… we made him up. Grandma? Grandma?

DADDY (Moving to MOMMY): There, there, now. […]

(While DADDY is comforting MOMMY, GRANDMA comes out, stage right, near the footlights)

GRANDMA (To the audience): Shhhhhh! I want to watch this.

Related Characters: Mommy (speaker), Daddy (speaker), Grandma (speaker), Mrs. Barker (speaker)
Related Symbols: Grandma’s Boxes
Page Number: 121-122
Explanation and Analysis:

MOMMY (Herself again, circling THE YOUNG MAN, feeling his arm, poking him): Yes, sir! Yes, sirree! Now this is more like it. Now this is a great deal more like it! Daddy! Come see. Come see if this isn’t a great deal more like it.

Related Characters: Mommy (speaker), Daddy, Grandma, Mrs. Barker, The Young Man
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

MOMMY (Moving to the tray): So, let’s— Five glasses? Why five? There are only four of us. Why five?

YOUNG MAN (Catches GRANDMA’S eye; GRANDMA indicates she is not there): Oh, I’m sorry.

MOMMY: You must learn to count. We’re a wealthy family, and you must learn to count.

YOUNG MAN: I will.

Related Characters: Mommy (speaker), The Young Man (speaker), Grandma
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

GRANDMA (Interrupting… to audience): Well, I guess that just about wraps it up. I mean, for better or worse, this is a comedy, and I don’t think we’d better go any further. No, definitely not. So, let’s leave things as they are right now . . . while everybody’s happy . . . while everybody’s got what he wants. . . or everybody’s got what he thinks he wants. Good night, dears.

Related Characters: Grandma (speaker), Mommy, Daddy, Mrs. Barker, The Young Man
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.