Changes Brought About By Emotions
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler
Emotions are the most important aspect of a play. Most plays are based around the interpersonal-dynamic, and almost all of such relation is emotion-centered. Through the course of all plays, some kind of social change occurs, and emotions act as a catalyst in many such changes. The strongest of emotions in Ray Lawler's Summer of the Seventeenth Doll are those of pride, anger, love and nostalgia.
In Mr. Lawler's play, pride is a powerful catalyst for change. Roo's pride led to him walking out on his cane-cutting gang, introducing the entire Dowd plot arc, which is pivotal. That led to the 'breaking up' of Barney and Roo's friendship.
Barney: "Righto, so I didn't walk out with you up north, but that was the only time I've ever slipped. I've stood by you other times haven't I?"
Roo: [away from Barney] "I didn't need you those other times.
That was once I did."
Pearl's pride is also the thing that most contributes to her own desperate yearning for status, respectability and her ideal lifestyle vision of a woman, married and firmly planted on a very high pedestal. This leads to her constant self-analysis of where she is in relation to those around her, socio-economically and morally. This gives her a greater awareness of the reality of any given situation, the opposite of Olive. This is the reason and cause of Pearl's shattering insight.
Pearl: "All right, but the least you can do is to see what you've got as it really is. Take a look at this place now you've pulled down the decorations. What's so wonderful about it? Nothing! It's just an ordinary little room that's a hell of a lot worse for wear. And if...