71 pages 2 hours read

Joseph Kesselring

Arsenic and Old Lace

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1941

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Act II

Act Summaries & Analyses

Act II Summary

The curtain rises on Jonathan catching his aunts up on his last five years in Chicago. Einstein alludes to their recent trip to South Bend, Indiana, but is quickly silenced. As Abby tries to force Jonathan to leave, they are interrupted by Teddy. Teddy approaches Einstein, addressing him as General Goethals and instructing Einstein to accompany him to the Panama Canal downstairs. While Einstein and Teddy are gone, Jonathan tells his aunts that he and Einstein have no hotel and must stay at the house. He threatens them by recalling that “as a boy” he could be “disagreeable” (43), and Martha caves to his demands, offering him a room for one night. Jonathan also announces his intentions for his grandfather’s laboratory, and says he expects it to be the site of a very fruitful business.

When Abby and Martha leave to prepare Jonathan’s lodging, Einstein reappears and tells him about the Panama Canal. The hole Teddy dug just so happens to be six feet tall and four feet wide, and is the perfect amount of space to house Mr. Spenalzo’s body. They resolve to bury Spenalzo after the sisters go to bed. In the meantime, Abby and Martha lament that they were unable to give Mr.