THE STORY: Leroy Hamilton is seated in the visiting room of a state mental hospital where his wife is having treatment. Forty-eight years old, he is dressed in Ivy League clothing and is looking through a magazine. He is a veteran of the visiting room, as his wife has been hospitalized a number of times over the years. Mr. Frick, a sixty-year-old solid businessman, enters. His wife is having treatment for the first time. Frick engages Leroy in conversation and it becomes obvious that he needs to be put at ease regarding the whole situation of his wife's illness and resulting hospitalization. The men compare very different stories of how the illnesses began and how they have settled. Leroy tells Frick that the secret to handling the situation is not to feel sorry for yourself. Frick listens, yet the conversation begins to disintegrate as the men disagree about the relative merits of the state hospital verses a private one. Frick admires Leroy's pride in keeping his wife at the state-owned institution, however, he does so condescendingly. It turns out that the men have known each other before from a different context—Leroy (a descendant of Alexander Hamilton) is a carpenter that uses Frick's lumber yard. Frick becomes even more condescending to Leroy and the conversation completely disintegrates into the kind of talk that Leroy says is driving people crazy.
Master playwright, Arthur Miller has given us a powerful one-act play that portrays two men on the verge of a real conversation which nevertheless, tragically disintegrates. Set in the visiting room of a state mental institution, THE LAST YANKEE is an indictment of the ways people sabotage communication.