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This is an important scene in the play for the action begun here directs the course of events that follow. It also establishes the coarse and powerful way of New Orleans' life. This is very much a man's scene, for it is poker night; the men, especially Stanley, are in their element as they play cards, drink, and speak vulgarly. Unfortunately, Stanley is not winning at poker. As he loses more and more, he drinks steadily and grows insulting to his guests. He ridicules Mitch for wanting to quit early and go home to his sick mother.
It is well past midnight when the sisters return. Blanche asks if she can be a back-seat player. Stanley loudly refuses and asks the women to go upstairs to see Eunice, Steve's wife. Stella refuses to go since it is nearly two-thirty. When she asks the men to quit for the night after another hand of poker, Stanley grows angrier and whacks her on her thigh, foreshadowing his capability for violence.
On her way to the bathroom for another shower, Blanche encounters Mitch. He is apparently attracted by her good looks. She too looks at him with interest. Stella introduces them to each other. When he returns to the poker game, Blanche questions Stella about Mitch's marital status, his temperament, his calling, and his career prospects.
Stella asks Blanche to move away from under the light where she is changing clothes. The reader correctly guesses that Blanche deliberately does this to win Mitch's interest. Stella then turns to her husband and begins to deride the wives of Stanley's colleagues, a thing she has apparently never done before. Stanley tells her to shut up. When Stella refuses, Stanley warns her not to start a row. He states that he cannot tolerate her superior stance (a seeming influence from her sister) and that she should talk in the same tone of voice as himself.
At the poker table, an argument breaks out. When Mitch wants to stop the game, the others pounce on him for winning and for being a mamas' boy. Stanley, in particular, makes some rude remarks. Mitch leaves the table and starts talking to Blanche. When she asks for a light, his silver case makes for a topic of conversation. He reveals that it was a parting gift from an old acquaintance, a sweet girl who knew she was dying. Blanche makes a few philosophical remarks and then tells Mitch that her name means "white wood," much like "an orchard in spring".
Blanche asks Mitch for a favor. She wants him to cover the "naked" light bulb with a Chinese paper lantern, for she cannot stand a strong light just as she cannot take "a rude remark or a vulgar action." As they talk about her school, Stanley is furiously calling for his friend; but Mitch is too involved with Blanche to hear. When she turns on he radio and "waltzes with Mitch to the music with romantic gestures," Stanley charges in, snatches the radio, and tosses it out of the window. When Stella tells the guests to leave, Stanley charges after her and hits her. The men pull Stanley back.
Blanche takes her sister to Eunice's apartment. Stanley's friends put him under the shower and leave. Stanley stumbles to the porch and bellows Stella's name. Eunice emerges and tells him to stop it, for he cannot treat his wife so badly and then call her back. Stanley suddenly becomes very humble and entreats Eunice to send his wife to him. When Eunice replies by slamming her door, he again screams Stella's name with "heaven-splitting violence." She can't resist him and comes downstairs. He picks her up and carries her inside the dark apartment, where they make up. Blanche comes looking for Stella, but finds Mitch. She tells him about her fear of Stanley's violence, but he tells her not to take it seriously. He states that Blanche and Stanley are "crazy about each other". The scene closes with Blanche's expression of gratitude for Mitch's kindness.
This scene revolving around a wild poker game further develops Stanley's coarseness and lack of decorum. As he loses, he grows impatient and hostile, drinks steadily, and ridicules Mitch, the winner of the game, for being "mama's boy." He also screams at the women and strikes his pregnant wife two different times.
Mitch is a sharp contrast to Stanley. Blanche at once spots his gentility, especially when compared to the manners of his companions. Mitch is also attracted to Blanche and seeks to have a conversation with her. They briefly talk about their past lives and learn that both of them have lost a loved one to death.