The Hairy Ape: Play Scene 7 - Summary & Analysis

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      After a month later, Yank is seen in the office of I.W.W near the waterfront. The room which is not only the office but an assembly room and reading room as well, resembles some dingy settlement boy’s club. The secretary is perched on the stool making entries in a large ledger. Eight or ten men, longshoremen, iron workers, and the like, are grouped about the table. Two are playing checkers; one is writing a letter. Most of them are smoking pipes.


      After Yank’s release from the prison, he comes down the street outside. Scene 7 depicts Yank’s search for a new identity at the meeting hall of the Industrial Workers of the World (the “Wobblies”). Yank is keen to meet the Secretary of I.W.W. for seeking his expert advice for the destruction of the steel trust. The Secretary is happy to learn that a worker of a liner wants to join the I.W.W. When the Secretary asks him his name, he does not remember it: “Le’mme tink”. He says, “I been just Yank for so long”. After taking the membership fee from Yank, the Secretary tells him to collect come pamphlets lying in the office and distribute them among other workers. He advises Yank to be loyal and discharge his duties in a serious manner. He assures him that he will be suitably rewarded for this task. Yank assures him all cooperation and promises to stick to this job.


      During the course of conversation, Yank realizes that I.W.W. is an underground organization of anarchists. The Secretary clarifies that they are not law-breaker but law-abiders. Yank wants to join this organization for furthering its social objective of reforming the conditions of the industrial workers. He further tells that he is joining it to blow up artifacts of capitalism not by legitimate action but with dynamite. But when Yank offers his services for the group to help “blow tings up”, they suspect that he is a plain-clothes policeman and throw him out. He wants to blow up Douglas’ factory where steel is manufactured. After destroying his steel plant, he will inform Mildred that the hairy ape has done it all. Doubting Yank’s motive the Secretary orders his men to throw him out of the office.


      The Secretary of I.W.W. doubts about Yank’s intention of joining this organization. He fears that some detective agency must have deputed him to spy on the I.W.W. Or he may be an agent provocateur working as a hireling on his master to betray his fellow-workers. The Secretary calls him a “brainless ape who has no place in this organization which has no hidden agenda. Yank is finally forcibly thrown out by the staff of I.W.W in spite of his tough resistance. With a growl he manages to get up and storms the closed door, but stops bewildered by the confusion prevailing in his mind. He has realized for the first time his inability to break open the door. He sits there, brooding, in as near to the attitude of Rodin’s “The Thinker” as he can resume his position.


      Yank is filled with intense anger after being thrown out of the office of the I.W.W. He regrets that even the I.W.W. men think that he does not belong. He calls them “yellow” who cannot do anything useful in this world. They are like abstract orators and religious preachers whose speeches have no practical relevance in life. Yank is self-lost and feels that life has come to a halt. He is like a broken clock that has stopped ticking. His confidence is all shattered and he suffers from an acute sense of alienation in life. He wants to communicate with nature to regain his sense of belongingness. Lifting a bitter mocking face up like a monkey jabbering at the moon, he says: “Yous up dere Man in de Moon. Yuh look so wise, gimme de answer, huh? Slip me de inside dope, de information right from the stable-where do I get off at, huh”? Ironically enough at this moment a policeman arrives on the scene to answer the question with a grim laughter: “you will get off at the station, you boob, if you don’t get up out of that and keep moving”. Yank ignores his warning and is ready to face the consequence of his act: “Sure. Lock me up. Put me in a cage. Dat’s de on’y answer yuh know. G’wan, lock me up”. When asked what is doing here, Yank tells the policeman that his crime in life is: “I was born, see? Sure, Dat’s de charge”. In answer to Yank’s question, “Where do I go from here”, the policeman answers with a grin, “Go to hell”.



      Yank’s illusion of belongingness is badly shattered in this Scene VII. His aim of joining I.W.W. for destructive purposes is disapproved by the union leaders. When asked about his name, he wants sometime to recall it. Yank's whimsical behavior annoys the office bearers. He is finally thrown out of the office of the I.W.W. as a provocateur for favoring the ideology of violent revenge.


      Yank’s finally realizes that he has no place in the industrial set-up. He has lost his authority and his illusion of being indispensable is all shattered. He frankly admits: “Steel was me, and I owned de world. Now I ain’t steel, and de world owns me”. He has finally discovered the ground reality and his insignificance in the machine age.

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