THE STORY: The play begins by introducing the next generation of Robedauxs in the person of Horace’s son, Horace Jr., who comes home from school to find that his maternal grandfather, Henry Vaughn, has died suddenly of a heart attack. From this point, two main storylines are traced in the play. One deals with young Horace’s coming to terms with the concepts of life, death and familial relationships. He finds that his mother, Elizabeth, is expecting another baby; he listens to, and asks many questions about, the widely contrasting accounts of his two grandfathers; and he endures the fussing of his paternal grandmother, who’s fearful that his love of reading will make him too introspective and “ruin him” for the real world. He must also come to grips with the drowning of Gertrude, a young black girl who was his confidante and friend. The other storyline concerns “Brother” Vaughn, Henry Vaughn’s dissolute son, who, in the short time during which he has control, heads his late father’s farms and other holdings on a course toward rapid ruin. When his mother takes back control of the estate, Brother heads off to Galveston, where he subsequently kills a man in a drunken brawl. Through all of this, Horace Sr. maintains his own counsel, although he stands up to his mother concerning his son’s love of reading, and he comforts his wife, Elizabeth, through the crises affecting her family. But he refrains, even when asked, from interfering in the family’s affairs and, as the play ends, the suggestion is strong that things are subtly, but inexorably, beginning to flow his way.
One of the final works in the nine play cycle entitled The Orphans’ Home
, which follows the lives of the Robedaux family of Harrison, Texas.
In the present play an era draws to its close, and the playwright explores the repercussions to the extended family which are felt at the death of Horace Robedaux’s domineering father-in-law, Henry Vaughn.