Click on "Link to file" below. Read the selection carefully to answer the question. We first sense that something out of the ordinary is going on when part2_modern_drama_newer.htm Frank quietly asks what the other people on the block are saying. Roger is allowed to turn on the TV. Frank announces that he sold three tractors. Arthur comes over to talk.
Modern Drama In this excerpt from Thunder on Sycamore Street, conflicts that arise between characters stem from a larger conflict not referred to directly. from Thunder on Sycamore Street by Reginald Rose Frank (to Clarice). Where's that sitter? Clarice. It's not time yet. Take it easy, Frank. [Frank gets up from the table, goes over to a box of cigars on top of the TV set, and lights one. Clarice and Roger watch him silently.] Clarice. Aren't you going to have some dessert, Frank? There's some cherry pie left. Frank. I'll have it later. [He puffs on the cigar.] Roger (low). I'm sorry, Dad. Frank (turning). Well, it's about time you learned some respect, d'you hear me? If I want you to know something I'll tell it to you. Roger (softly). Okay . . . Clarice (quickly). Have some pie, honey. I heated it special. [Frank goes to the table and sits down. He puts the cigar down and Clarice begins to cut him some pie.] Clarice. How late do you think we'll be, Frank? Frank. I don't know. Clarice. Do you think I ought to pack a thermos of hot coffee? It's going to be chilly. Frank. Might not be a bad idea. [Frank now begins to show the first signs of being excited about the evening. He speaks, almost to himself.] Frank. Boy, I can't wait till I see his face. The nerve of him. The absolute nerve. (Grinning) What d'you think he'll do when we all- Clarice (looking at Roger). Frank . . . Frank (as Roger stares). Oh, yeah, go ahead, Rog. You can turn on your program. Roger. Gee thanks, Dad. [He jumps up, goes to the TV set and turns it on. Frank and Clarice watch him get settled in front of TV set. We hear dialogue from set faintly. Roger watches in background, enraptured.] Frank (quietly). What are they saying on the block? Clarice. I didn't speak to anyone. I was ironing all day. Frank. Charlie Denton called me at the office. I was right in the middle of taking an order from Martin Brothers for three A-81 tractors. Clarice. Three? Frank, that's wonderful! Frank. Not bad. Anyway, I made Mr. Martin wait while I spoke to Charlie. Charlie says it's gonna be one hundred percent. Every family on the block. He just called to tell me that. Clarice. Well, that's good. Everyone should be in on this. Frank (eating). Clarry, I'm telling you this is going to be a job well done. It's how you have to do these things. Everybody getting together first . . . and boom, it's over. I can't wait till it's started. It's been long enough. Clarice. I saw her out the window today, hanging clothes in her yard like nothing was wrong. She didn't even look this way. Frank. What time is it? Clarice. Now you just asked me two minutes ago. It's about three minutes to seven. What's the matter with you? You'll be getting yourself an ulcer over this thing. Relax, Frank. Here, have some more pie. Frank. No. No more. [He gets up and walks around nervously, slapping his fist into his palm. Roger is looking at him now. He is tense, excited, completely caught up in the impending event.] Frank. This is something big, you know that, Clarry? We're getting action without pussyfooting for once. That's it. That's the big part. There's too much pussyfooting going on all the time. Can't hurt anyone's feelings. Every time you turn around you're hurting some idiot's feelings. Well that's tough, I say . . . Clarice (indicating Roger). Frank . . . Frank. He can hear! He's old enough. You want something bad, you gotta go out and get it! That's how this world is. Boy, I like this, Clarry. You know what it makes me feel like? It makes me feel like a man! [He stalks up and down the room for a few moments as they watch him. Then he goes to the window and stands there looking out.] Clarice (quietly). I think I'll just stack the dishes. [She starts to do it. The doorbell rings. Roger jumps up.] Roger. I'll get it. [He goes to the door and opens it. Arthur Hayes stands there a bit apologetically. He wears no overcoat, having just come from next door. He looks extremely upset.] Arthur. Rog, is your dad in? Roger. Sure. Come on in, Mr. Hayes. [Arthur walks in slowly. Frank turns around, still excited. He goes over to Arthur.] Frank (loud). Hey, Artie. Come on in. Arthur. Hello, Frank . . . Frank (laughing). What can I do for you? (Arthur looks hesitatingly at Roger.) Oh, sure. Rog, go help your mother. Roger (annoyed). Okay . . . [He walks off to dining table.] Frank (chuckling). That's some kid, isn't he, Artie? How old is yours now? Arthur. Twenty-one months. Frank. Yeah. Well, that's still nothing but a crying machine. Wait a couple years. He'll kill you. Arthur. I guess so. Frank. And how! Sit down for a minute, Artie. What's on your mind? Arthur (sitting. Hesitantly). Well, I don't know . . . I just . . . well . . . I just wanted . . . to talk. Frank. No kidding. Say, y'know you look a little green around the gills? What's the matter? [Arthur Hayes takes off his eyeglasses and begins to polish them, a nervous habit in which he indulges when upset.] Arthur. Nothing. I've had an upset stomach for a couple of days. Maybe that's it. Frank (nodding). Yeah, that'll get you down all right. Probably a virus. [Arthur nods and they look at each other awkwardly for a moment.] Frank. Well, what did you want to talk to me about? [Arthur looks at the floor, trying to frame his answer carefully, afraid to offend. Finally he blurts it out.] Arthur. What do you think about this thing tonight? Frank (surprised). What do you mean what do I think about it? Arthur. Well, I've been kind of going over it all day, Frank. I talked with Phyllis before. Frank (a little hard). And . . . Arthur. Well, it was just talk. We were just talking it over to get clear on it, you know. Frank. Go ahead. Arthur. And . . . well, look, Frank, it's a pretty hard thing. Supposing it were you? Frank. It's not. Arthur. Well, I know that, but supposing it were? [Frank stands up and goes over to Arthur.] Frank. Your glasses are clean. You wear 'em out, you have to buy a new pair. (Arthur looks down at his glasses, then puts them on nervously.) Now what about it, Artie? What if I was the guy? Arthur. Well, you know . . . how would you feel? Frank. How would I feel, huh? Now that's a good question, Artie. I'll answer it for you. It doesn't make any difference how I'd feel. Now let me ask you a question. Is he a lifelong buddy of yours? Arthur. Well, now, you know he's not, Frank. Frank. Do you know him to say hello to? Arthur. That's not the idea. He's- Frank. Artie . . . you don't even know the guy. What are you getting yourself all hot and bothered about? We all agreed, didn't we? Arthur. Yes . . . everybody agreed. Frank. You. Me. The Dentons. The McAllisters. The Fredericks. The Schofields. Every family on Sycamore Street for that matter. We all agreed. That's how it is. The majority. Right? Arthur. Well . . . I think we all ought to talk it over, maybe. Let it wait a few days. [He takes off his glasses again and begins to wipe them.] Frank. Artie . . . we talked it over. (Frank takes the handkerchief out of Arthur's hand and tucks it into his pocket.) In about ten minutes we're starting. We expect to have a solid front, you know what I mean? Everybody. You included. You're my next-door neighbor, boy. I don't want to hear people saying Artie Hayes wasn't there. Arthur (hesitantly). Well, I don't know, Frank. I thought- [The phone rings. Frank goes toward it.] Frank. Go home, Artie. Don't worry about it. I'll see you in a few minutes. (Frank goes to the phone and picks it up. Arthur stares at him.) Hello . . . (Arthur turns away and walks slowly to door.) Speaking. [Arthur goes out, dazed and frightened. Clarice comes into living room and stands waiting as Frank listens to phone.] Frank (angry). What do you mean you can't get here? (Pause) Well, this is a great time to call! (Pause) I know. Yeah. (He slams the phone down. To Clarice.) Our sitter can't get here. How d'you like that? Clarice. What's wrong with her? Frank. I don't know. She's got a cold, or something. Nice dependable girl you pick. Clarice (snapping). Well, I didn't exactly arrange for her to get a cold, you know. Frank. Look, Clarry, we're going to this thing no matter what. Clarice. Well, I'm not leaving Chris with Roger. They'll claw each other to pieces. Frank. Then we'll take them with us. Clarice. You wouldn't . . . Frank. Who wouldn't? We're doing it for them as much as anyone else, aren't we? Well, they might as well see it. Clarice. Maybe I'd better stay home with them. Frank. No, sir. You've been in on this from the beginning. You're going. Come on, get Chris dressed. We haven't got much time. Clarice. Well . . . whatever you think, Frank . . . Frank. I'm telling you it's all right. Won't hurt 'em a bit. (To Roger) What d'you say, son? Want to come along? Roger (eagerly). Oh, boy! Really? (Frank nods and grins. Roger leaps happily.) Gee, Dad, you're the greatest guy in all the whole world. [He runs over and hugs Frank.]