A monologue from the play by Eugene O'Neill

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Thirst and Other One-Act Plays. Eugene O'Neill. Boston: Gorham Press, 1914.
  • MRS. KNAPP: Give up your job? Are you a fool? Are you such a coward that a doctor can scare you like that? What’s the matter with you all of a sudden? You’re not deaf now and even if that lyin’ doctor spoke the truth you’ll hear for a long time yet. He only told you about that sudden stroke to keep you comin’ to him. I know the way they talk. I suppose you think it’s right to loaf around here until we all get put out in the streets? God knows your salary is small enough but without it we’d starve to death. Can’t you think of others besides yourself? How about me and the children? What’s goin’ to buy them clothes and food? I can’t earn enough and what Charlie gets wouldn’t keep him alive for a week. Jim sends us a few dollars a month but he don’t get much and he ain’t workin’ regular. We owe the grocer and the butcher now. If they found out you wasn’t workin’ they wouldn’t give us any more credit. And the landlord? How long would he let us stay here? You’ll get other work? Remember the last time you tried. We had to pawn everything we had then and we was half-starved when you did land this job. You had to go back to the same old work, didn’t you? They didn’t want you at any telegraph office, did they? You was too old and slow, wasn’t you? Well you’re older and slower than ever now and that’s the only other job you’re fit for. [with bitter scorn] You’ll get another job! [She sits down and covers her face with her hands, weeping bitterly.] And this is all the thanks I get for slavin’ and workin’ my fingers off! What a father for my poor children! Oh, why did I ever marry such a man? It’s been nothin’ but worryin’ and sufferin’ ever since.