Thirst – Monologue (The Gentleman)

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A monologue from the play by Eugene O’Neill

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Thirst and Other One-Act Plays. Eugene O’Neill. Boston: Gorham Press, 1914.


You remember when the crash came? We were all in the salon. You were singing—a Cockney song I think? You were very beautiful. I remember a woman on my right saying:

“How pretty she is! I wonder if she is married?” Strange how some idiotic remark like that will stick in one’s brain when all else is vague and confused.

A tragedy happens—we are in the midst of it—and one of our clearest remembrances afterwards is a remark that might have been overheard in any subway train.

You were very beautiful. I was looking at you and wondering what kind of a woman you were. You know I had never met you personally—only seen you in my walks around the deck.

Then came the crash—that horrible dull crash. We were all thrown forward on the floor of the salon; then screams, oaths, fainting women, the hollow boom of a bulkhead giving way.

Then I was on deck fighting in the midst of the crowd. Somehow I got into a boat—but it was overloaded and was swamped immediately. I swam to another boat. They beat me off with the oars.

That boat too was swamped a moment later. And then the gurgling, choking cries of the drowning! Something huge rushed by me in the water leaving a gleaming trail of phosphorescence.

A woman near me with a life belt around her gave a cry of agony and disappeared—then I realized—sharks! I became frenzied with terror. I swam. I beat the water with my hands.

The ship had gone down. I swam and swam with but one idea—to put all that horror behind me. I saw something white on the water before me. I clutched it—climbed on it. It was this raft.

You and he were on it. I fainted. The whole thing is a horrible nightmare in my brain—but I remember clearly that idiotic remark of the woman in the salon. What pitiful creatures we are!

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