The Straw: Play by Eugene O'Neill - Summary & Analysis

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      In The Straw, Eileen Carmody, uprooted from the bourgeois life in which had her own place and her own responsibilities, finds herself with nothing to do but wait, fret, grow bored, and worry about her weight. Eileen hopes to find a new life ‘outside’ through a fellow patient, but he does not reciprocate her love and leaves the sanatorium. From this moment on illness and life, weight, temperature, and hope become identical, and Eileen becomes morbid. The man she loves finally returns, recognizes his ‘duty’, and from one minute to the next falls in love with the dying girl.

Critical Analysis

      The Straw is an autobiographical work in which O’Neill might have injected his own experiences as a seaman into Stephen Murray’s biography. The play stresses the need of nourishing illusions for the continuity of life on earth. The play both sentimentalized and oversimplified the reality.

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