‘You know? It’s lovely here. The air is sweet.’ (Act One)
It would be easy to mistake Ann for a sweet innocent girl. She’s described as gentle, and the characters go on and on about her pretty looks. The first thing she does on her first entrace is laugh. She spends three weeks salary on a dress, on a whim. Growing up has not made Ann bitter, as it has Sue, nor has it made her desperate. She wants to marry Chris for love and companionship – not for his money.
But Ann is a strong woman. She knows want she wants and she is not easily swayed. Not only that but she displays a strength of purpose in getting it. Ann never once wavers in Kate’s questioning about her feelings for Larry. She is not waiting for him to come home. No matter how hard Kate tries, Ann will not be bullied. Ann has brought her letter from Larry, a letter no one knows about, and when all else fails in persuading Kate, she brings it out when ethe Keller’s are at their lowest.
Further, Ann has disowned her father. She is completely convinced of his guilt and feels no guilt herself in refusing to see or talk to him: ‘It’s wrong to pity a man like that. Father or no father, there’s only one way to look at him.’ (Act One)
Sweetness and steel are wonderful contrasting characteristics in a character.
Activities and Exercises
- Ann has a very clunky line in Act one – ‘Gosh, those dear dead days beyond recall.’ It’s clearly purposeful, Miller wouldn’t leave it in by accident. But why is it there? Why does she refer to the days as ‘dear dead’ and why are they beyond recall? Why is it important for her to say she can’t recall them? Give everyone a chance to say this line and explain why it’s there and why they say it the way they do.
- From the very beginning Ann is over Larry. It begs the question if she was over Larry before he left for the war. Especially since she nearly married someone ‘two years ago.’ That would be a very short time after Larry’s death. Even though Larry tells Ann not to wait for him, she gets over him quickly. Discuss in groups why that is.
- Improvise a scene between Ann and the two brothers before the war. What was she like as a younger girl? Has she changed at all? Add George into the mix. How does he act at this age?
- In groups, find lines for Ann that accentuate her sweetness and her steel. Say the lines in pairs with a defined physical presence. How does her physical presence change when she is being sweet to when she is being strong? After the first round switch the presence – say the sweet lines with the strong presence and the strong lines with the sweet presences. How does that affect her character?
- Improv the day that Ann gets the letter from Larry. What does she do? How does she react? Does she ever think about talking to the Kellers? Or to Chris?
- Ann makes a choice to turn her back on George and stay with Chris. This is the second family member she’s turned her back on. What was Ann’s family life like? Write a scene in groups that shows the Deever’s family life.
Questions To Answer
- Why doesn’t Ann bring out the letter from Larry sooner?
- Is Ann right or wrong to use the letter?
- Did Ann really love Larry?
- Has Ann ever suspected Joe?
- Sue describes Ann as the ‘female version’ of Chris. Is this a true vision of Ann? Why or why not?
- What is the relationship between Ann and George? Who is older? Who acts older?
- How does Ann view the world?