Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
The Mothers (Mrs. Myrtle Webb and Mrs. Julia Gibbs)
The mothers of George and Emily are neighbors and best friends. They are also cast as character types. They are typical wives and mothers, fretting over domestic trifles, concerned about the well- being of their children, and caring for their husbands. Since their entire lives revolve around their families, their daily routines are much the same. They awaken early to prepare breakfast and get the children off to school. During the day, they shop, cook, and clean; sometimes they find time to visit with a friend, but they often share practical advice or continue to work during the visit. The Stage Manager is amazed at the stamina of these women. He remarks that they have "cooked three meals a day-one of 'em for twenty years, the other for forty...brought up two children apiece, washed, cleaned the house, -- and never had a nervous break down."
In spite of the concern that they show for their children, Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Gibbs do have an outside life. They both sing in the church choir and fret about Stimson's alcoholism. Additionally, Mrs. Gibbs dreams of traveling to Paris, France, even though she realizes it will never happen. Both mothers admit that they have done a poor job of preparing Emily and George for matrimony. As devoted mothers, they do too much for their children. Mrs. Gibbs agrees to approach her husband about giving George an increase in allowance instead of making him do it himself; she also tells him he must put on his overshoes the day of the wedding before he can go outside. In a similar vein, Mrs. Webb chooses the dress that Emily will wear to school, and when she objects, she insists that Emily wear it any way. When Mr. Webb sees his daughter peering out the window late one night, he warns her that her mother had better not catch her up so late on a school night. It is no wonder that these two mothers worry that neither George nor Emily is ready for the responsibility of being a spouse.
The fathers of George and Emily are small town professionals, intelligent and dedicated to their work; they are often seen during the play talking about their jobs. In the first act, Doc Gibbs talks about delivering the Goruslawski twins; he is also seen fretting about Stimson's alcoholism, Joe Crowell's knee, and Mrs. Wentworth's stomach ailment. Editor Webb is called upon to give a social and political account of Grover's Corners; after giving an excellent, detailed report, he agrees to answer questions from the audience. Obviously, both men are quite sure of themselves and their abilities.
Doc Gibbs and Editor Webb are both devoted fathers, concerned about bringing up their children correctly, and good husbands, who provide for their wives. Doc Gibbs tells George that he must do more to help his mother with her daily chores if he is to receive more allowance. In addition, he reminisces with his wife about what they were like when they first married and admits he was afraid that they would run out of things to talk about. Editor Webb worries about his daughter staying up late and being too romantic. He also talks to the constable about keeping an eye on his son to make sure he stays out of trouble. In the end, both fathers are pleased that their children are marrying one another. Mr. Webb assures Emily, when she has cold feet about the wedding, that George will make a wonderful husband and be a good provider and father.