Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, pdf of the one-act play (drama) Ever Young by Alice Gustenberg of NBSE Class 11 Alternative English. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.
Summary: Even Young, written by Alice Gustenberg, an American playwright, is a one-act play set in the 1920s when the country was undergoing several changes as a result of the changing attitude toward women in society. This play is about four women- Mrs Phoebe Payne-Dexter, Mrs Agnes Dochester, Mrs William Blanchard, and Mrs Caroline Courtney-Page. They are all old and the scene is set in a hotel lobby.
Mrs Payne-Dexter and Mrs Dorchester are the first characters we meet. Mrs Dochester is a person with traditional values, whereas Mrs Payne Dexter is the polar opposite. She is very fashionable and wishes to remain youthful. She is working hard to stay young.
We find them in the lobby, talking about the debutantes (young upper-class women). Mrs Payne-Dexter complains about how the debutantes are very rude to them and she despises them because she is unhappy with the privileges that the debutantes now have as they did not have when they were younger, such as smoking in public and going out with whomever they want. Mrs Payne-Dexter expects debutantes to step aside and greet him whenever she sees them. She always expects the debutante to respect her. Mrs Dochester, on the other hand, is unconcerned about anything.
Mrs William Blanchard enters as they are having their conversation. Mrs Blanchard uses a walking cane and is an elderly woman. She recently divorced and is now celebrating her divorce. She begins to complain about how she dislikes people assisting her. She wants to be self-sufficient, and when others assist her, she feels belittled. She’s been reading a book called “Truth and Youth,” which claims that our bodies’ cells regenerate every nine months.
Mrs Blanchard refuses to accept that she is growing old and wishes to remain young, telling others that she is only nine months old. Mrs Blanchard discovered her husband was cheating on him four months after their marriage. She was completely broken and wanted to divorce at the time, but women were not allowed to do so. They were supposed to be quiet and not say anything negative about her husband.
At this point, we have a new character, Oliver Trent, but he does not appear on stage. Mrs Blanchard was rescued by Trent. Trent and Mrs Blanchard decided to instil jealousy in Mr Blanchard, forcing him to abandon the woman and return to Mrs Blanchard.
Trent was a young lieutenant, and he and Mrs Blanchard fell in love, but Trent couldn’t marry Mrs Blanchard because she was already married. Soon after, Trent was posted far away in China, and in the midst of the rebellion, Trent went missing. Mrs Blanchard believed Trent was dead, but his spirit was always watching her.
Mrs Blanchard gave Trent a lock of her golden hair during their last meeting so that he would remember her wherever the trend goes. The hair was placed in an amber watch.
Mrs Courtney-Page then makes her entry. Mrs Courtney-Page is invited to come and talk with the three women. Mrs Courtney Page is about 60 years old, has been engaged thrice and married once.
Mrs Courtney Page learns of Mrs Blanchard’s divorce and tells her that she did the right thing and that she should be celebrating her divorce and then find someone new to fall in love with. Mrs Blanchard is taken aback by the prospect of meeting someone at this age. Mrs Courtney-Page informs her that she is 60 years old and has a fiance.
Mrs Courtney-Page was engaged three times but married only once. She has four strands of pearls and tells the story of how she got them. Her first fiancee, Harlow Bingham, who died in a horse race accident, gave her the first. The second one was given to her by her second fiancee, but sadly, he died of fever before their marriage.
The third pearl was given to her by her husband who died a year ago, and Mrs Courtney-Page is still mourning her husband’s death. However, she currently has a fiance. Her current fiancee has given her the fourth.
The other three women are ecstatic and eager to find out who this new fiance is. They inquire whether he is a Frenchman because they met in Paris. Mrs Courtney-Page explains that he is not a Frenchman, but rather an American who is the President of an Australian mining company. Her fiance’s name is Oliver Trent, she says.
Oliver Trent is alive and well, and he is now engaged to Mrs Courtney-Page. Mrs Blanchard is devastated by this, and Mrs Dorchester rushes to her aid. Mrs Blanchard stands up and begins to repeat that she remembers something about a locket that she has with her. Mrs Dorchester describes how she obtained the locket from her son, who obtained it from a Chinese servant. Trent was taken prisoner by the Chinese during the Boxing Rebellion, and the Chinese servant assisted him in getting out of China.
Mrs Courtney-Page discovers that Mrs Blanchard is still in love with Trent and decides to give Mrs Blanchard the fourth and largest strand of pearls, but Mrs Blanchard refuses to accept the strand of pearls and instead accepts only the locket. She takes it with both hands, excuses herself from the other women, and goes to her room. While leaving, she forgets her walking stick, which astounds the three women, and they decide not to remind her.
Mrs Courtney Paige realises that Mrs Blanchard is still in love with Trent and decides to give Mrs Blanchard the fourth and largest strand of pearls, but Mrs Blanchard refuses to accept the strand of pearls and instead accepts only the locket. She takes it with both hands, excuses herself from the other women, and goes to her room. While leaving, she forgets her walking stick, which astounds the three women, and they decide not to remind her.
Mrs Courtney-Page now decides to forgo her fiance because she knows Mrs Blanchard is still in love with Trent and she is not ready to marry Trent at this time. She decides to give up on him and look for someone new, but she decides to keep the pearl.
The play Ever Young concludes with the notion that if you want to stay young forever, you must fall in love.
A. Answer the following questions.
1. Describe Mrs Payne Dexter’s appearance as described at the beginning of the play Ever Young.
Answer: Mrs Payne-Dexter has wrinkles on her face. She has a lively personality, a well-proportioned body, and worldly humorous eyes that make her look younger than her age. Her white hair is well-marcelled, as are her hands, which are well-manicured and ring-studded. She is dressed in a lavender brocade evening gown with a diamond dog collar and lorgnette.
2. Why don’t the other women around Mrs Payne, Dexter get the same deferential treatment from the debutantes?
Answer: The other women around Mrs Payne Dexter are not treated differently than the debutantes because they do not create an environment that demands their attention. Mrs Payne Dexter, on the other hand, would terrorise the debutantes into sidestepping for her.
3. Why is Mrs Blanchard getting tired of the cane?
Answer: Mrs Blanchard is tired of carrying her cane around with her all the time. She dislikes the courtesy that people show her by assisting her to sit, walk, or move around wherever she goes. According to her, their courtesy toward her infirmity is an insult.
4. Who is Oliver Trent?
Answer: Oliver Trent is an outrageous flirt and an American lieutenant. He had affairs with Mrs Blanchard, Mrs Courtney Page, and a number of other women.
9. What gave Mrs Blanchard the strength to walk out without her cane?
Answer: Mrs Blanchard was able to walk out without her care because of her ecstasy at learning that Oliver Trent was alive and that he had always been in love with her all those years after they had parted.
10. How did Mrs Dorchester happen to have an amber charm?
Answer: Mrs Dorchester’s amber charm was given to her by her father on her twenty-first birthday so that she could save a lock of her blonde hair.
B. Read the following lines and answer the questions.
1. I always linger over my coffee. I always did with Thomas when he was alive. Our family has always lingered over the coffee. Does the response of Mrs Payne-Dexter reveal that family traditions are important to her, or is it more about her sense of self-importance:’
Answer: Mrs Payne Dexter’s response to lingering over her coffee reveals more about her sense of self-importance than it does about the importance of family traditions to her. In her response, she exudes a sense of authority.
4. Be shocked if you want to ‘I am free now and can speak of it.’ What can Mrs Blanchard speak of, now:
Answer: Mrs Blanchard had divorced her husband, so she could now speak openly about her feelings for the lieutenant who had so successfully aroused her husband’s jealousy. She revealed that there was only one man in her entire life who she truly loved, and it was not her husband, but the lieutenant.
5. But it isn’t a happy thought not to be needed. What did Mrs Payne-Dexter say to make Mrs Dorchester respond in this way?
Answer: Mrs Dorchester reacted in this manner when Mrs Payne-Dexter told her that it was only because she felt obligated to help her children. Her assistance was not required. They don’t want to hurt her feelings by telling her they don’t need her. Mrs Payne Dexter looked after her grandchild so that her granddaughter’s mother could go play a card game or save the nurse’s bill for her son while he spent his money playing polo at the club.
C. Answer the following questions in detail.
1. Of all the characters in the play Ever Young, Mrs Dorchester appears to be the one who is grounded in reality. Do you agree? Give reasons.
Answer: Mrs Dorchester, of all the characters in the play Ever Young, is the one who is grounded in reality. Mrs Payne Dexter, on the other hand, wears a lorgnette simply to add some distinction to her manners. When Mrs Payne Dexter becomes envious of the young debutantes, she reminds her that they have had their fair share of bad luck and that they should relax and give them a chance. Her grace and good nature can be seen in the way she handles financial matters following her husband’s death; such a family loving and caring wife is not seen in the play Ever Young except for her. Mrs Dorchester is the type of woman who does not live in a hurry. She believes in “accepting old age with as much grace as possible,” which the other women regard as ridiculously out of date. She adores her husband, and it appears to her that it is love that holds them together, but she cannot believe that it does. This demonstrates how grounded she is in reality. Mrs Blanchard was also able to walk without the use of a cane thanks to her. She felt she needed to say something to bring her back to life because she was afraid she would die, and she was successful.
2. Mrs Courtney-Page appears very reasonable when she gets to know that her fiance was the love of Mrs Blanchard’s life. Is it because she empathises with Mrs Blanchard or because she is not really in love with her fiancé?
Answer: Mrs Coutney Page does not appear to adore Mr Oliver Trent. She did not appear reasonable to Mrs Blanchard because of her empathy. If her love was true, she would have a different attitude. She wore the pearl strands around her neck as if she was proud of the number of men she had in her life. She has stated that she will not marry Oliver Trent and will only keep the fourth, largest, and longest strand of pearls. When asked if she loved him, she simply stated that she could always find someone else. This demonstrated that she was not in love with her fiancé.
3. Mrs Payne-Dexter appears to be the imposing personality in this group of women. Comment.
Answer: Mrs Payne Dexter is the type of woman with a lively personality. Despite having a wrinkled face, she does not appear to be ageing. She looks magnificent in her diamonds and gowns. Her most imposing characteristic is that she commands the authority of a leader. She is the type of woman who is always trying to be better than the people around her. She liked to linger over coffee not because of family tradition, but because of the importance, she placed on herself. When Mrs Dorchester told her about it, she said it dominantly. She has a certain demeanour and enjoys impressing people with her manners. Her manners are distinguished by the lorgnette she carries around with her. She is proud of her position and the role she played in society as a “dowager” and “member of the society that once ruled New York.” As long as she is alive, she will demand respect from the young debutantes. Whenever she is present, she creates an environment that demands the attention of the young people around her. Mrs Payne Dexter terrorises them to the point where they “side-step” for her everywhere she goes, and this is how she receives preferential treatment from them.
7. Are the women in the play Ever Young really as liberated as they are made out to be or are they held back on some accounts because of their gender? Cite instances from the play.
Answer: Women’s status underwent significant changes in the early twentieth century. The attitude toward women’s positions began to shift. This was in contrast to the 18th and 19th centuries when women’s status in society was found to be deteriorating. Women gained some degree of freedom of expression and behaviour with the advent of the twentieth century. We can clearly see it in the portrayal of the main characters in the play ‘Ever Young.’ Mrs Blanchard, for example, says in the play, “I am not ready to sit before the fireplace and I would rather play roulette than knit”. It is a direct affront to the belief that a divorced or widowed woman must confine herself to her husband’s memories or let her husband’s plight diminish her life. Mrs Courtney-Page’s remark is another example of this: “Why should a woman remain in bondage when there is at every turn a new chance for a better alliance?”. “A woman can marry any man she wants,” she says, and she has proof: “I was engaged three times, married once, widowed once, and now I have another fiancé.” All of these examples demonstrate that women were liberated and enjoyed the same liberties as men.
8. In the play Ever Young, the book ‘Truth and Youth’ is mentioned twice. Is this a clever ploy by the playwright to remind the readers that truth and youth are the parallel themes of the play?
Answer: The book ‘Truth and Youth’ is mentioned twice in the play Ever Young, on different occasions. The book reflects Mrs Blanchard’s current state, which parallels the theme of the play. Mrs Blanchard is a true example of how, if we remove the illusion of old age, we can remain eternally young. We do not have to pay for youth. All we have to do is think about it and live it. It is very simple if we have faith.
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