Two girls sit in a white room, weaving and singing. A younger girl enters and asks if they saw the wedding or heard what happened after, but neither was there or has any idea. The little girl leaves, and the two older ones seem to have a vision, seeing that “the Groom is red. On the bank of the river I saw them lying” (64). The little girl returns; she senses that the search party is returning with the corpses.
Leonardo’s Wife and Mother-in-Law enter. The Mother-in-Law seems to know more about what has happened than the Wife does, and she urges her daughter to wear mourning clothes and hide away in her house with her children. They do not answer the girls’ questions about the previous night’s events.
Shortly after the Mother-in-Law and Wife leave, the Beggar Woman appears and asks the girls for some bread. They initially tell her to go away because they are frightened by her voice, but when they learn that she has come via the river, they ask for information about the wedding party. She reveals to them that two men have died, and graphically describes their corpses, as well as the Bride, who is alive but covered with blood.
Everyone leaves, and the Bridegroom’s Mother enters with the Neighbour from Act I. She bids the Neighbour to stop crying, and she explains that her tears will be hotter and angrier than anyone’s when she finally allows herself to weep. She says that at midnight she will sleep in the mausoleum, implying that she intends to kill herself.
The Bride enters the room. Mother does not react to her presence at first, but, remembering her son’s honor, she calls the younger woman a viper and hits her. The Neighbour pulls her away from the Bride, but the Bride doesn’t mind the beating, explaining that she came to the white room so Mother would kill her. She adds that she wants to die and is satisfied that she will be a virgin when it happens.
The Bride embarks on a long explanation of her actions. She tells the Bridegroom’s Mother that she would have behaved similarly in the Bride’s situation. The Bride genuinely liked her fiancé and hoped to have children with him, but her love for Leonardo was like a roaring river to the Bridegroom’s tiny drop of water. Perhaps surprisingly, Mother seems to understand, calling the Bride “a frail, delicate woman who sleeps badly and throws away a crown of orange blossom to find a patch of mattress warmed by another woman” (69).
The Bride continues to suggest that her mother-in-law kill her, and offers to prove her purity by holding her hand in fire longer than Mother can. Several neighbors, including Leonardo’s Wife, enter as they have this conversation. The Bride goes to mourn by the door while everyone else mourns in the center of the room. Mother recites a poem recounting the violent details of her son’s demise. It is finally apparent that Leonardo and the Bridegroom stabbed each other with the same knife.
Lorca employs a sophisticated framing device in this scene to prolong the suspense about what happened to the Bride, the Bridegroom, and Leonardo. By focusing on the weaving girls and gradually providing information through the townspeople that pass through the white room, he wrenches the audience out of their previously privileged position as witnesses to private conversations and dramatic moments.
Rather than portraying the double murder firsthand, Lorca distances readers and audiences from the violent spectacle, and instead focuses on the repercussions that the deaths have on people in the community. The striking lack of privacy in the Bride and Mother’s confrontation is one effect of the public nature of the murders. It evokes the role that “society,” as represented by the constant stream of anonymous mourners, had in causing or exacerbating the tensions that led to the conflict.
The Mother’s final, poetic lamentation for her son is different from the other poetry and songs that are used in the play. Featuring visceral, violent imagery and muscular, concise verbs, it has more in common with a Modernist elegy than it does with a traditional village rhyme. This shift in style suggests that the character has discarded the social norms that she embraced earlier in the play, and is only consumed with deep, atavistic grief.
At the beginning of the scene, the two village girls (who may or may not be the same Girls from earlier acts) appear to have a supernatural vision of the deaths in the woods. This suggests the culmination of the shift in tone in Act III, Scene 1, in which domestic conversations were replaced by the Moon’s song.
Now, supernatural events are occurring not only in the woods, but also in the town during the day, and are affecting even people who have nothing to do with the vendetta. This suggests that the horror of the night’s violent events will even affect strangers, because they add to the town’s already-significant culture of conflict.