Blood Relations

Blood Relations Summary and Analysis of Part 3


Mr. Borden confronts Lizzie about her relationship with Dr. Patrick, which he believes is an affair. A stage direction tells us, "She smiles at him, there is an affection between them. She has the qualities he would like in a son but deplores in a daughter." She assures him that it is not, and he tells her that it is natural for a woman to have feelings for a man and want a family.

Lizzie tells her father that her friendship with Dr. Patrick is a game, "a blessed relief to talk to a married man." Dr. Borden then brings up Johnny MacLeod, who is raising three sons without a mother, and wants to come visit her. She tells him she does not want to be visited, and says, "I'm supposed to be a mirror. I'm supposed to reflect what you want to see, but everyone wants something different. If no one looks in the mirror, I'm not even there, I don't exist!"

Mr. Borden asks Lizzie if she wants to live in the house her whole life, to which she replies, "No...I want out of it, but I won't get married to do it." Suddenly, Lizzie begins begging her father to let her work, instead of forcing her to marry. Mrs. Borden enters and taunts Lizzie about how she always wants money and Lizzie begins to smash plates.

Mrs. Borden continues to taunt Lizzie, and when Lizzie refers to her as a "fat cow," Mr. Borden slaps his daughter, telling her she will see Johnny MacLeod on Tuesday night. He tries to grab her to bring her to her room, but she resists, and he shoves her onto the floor, before leaving the room.

Left alone with Lizzie, Mrs. Borden tells her stepdaughter that she has to accept the facts of life. "I have a right. A right that frees me from all that," Lizzie insists, suggesting that she has a right to a third of her father's fortune. "Your father's no fool, Lizzie...Only a fool would leave money to you," says Mrs. Borden, leaving the room.

Bridget comes in and helps Lizzie. She tells Lizzie about a cook named Mary at the house she worked in before working at the Bordens', who used to spit in the soup and put hair in the omelet. Lizzie asks Bridget if she likes her, and Bridget advises her to be "more like cook...Smile and get 'round them." Suddenly, the real Lizzie breaks character slightly from playing Bridget and envisions herself wearing a mask on a carousel horse.

Suddenly, they are interrupted by Mr. Borden discussing a business deal with Wingate concerning the family property. Wingate convinces Borden to sell him his farm, and wants to ask him where the farm is going in his will. When Borden tells him he does not have a will, Wingate says, "I wouldn't want to be in a position where Lizzie would be havin' anything to do with that farm. The less she knows now the better, but she's bound to find out—I don't feel I'm steppin' out of line by bringin' this up."

Lizzie listens in, as Wingate urges Mr. Borden to leave the farm to Abbie, his wife, in the will. Suddenly, they notice Lizzie and Wingate leaves. "What are you doing with the farm?" Lizzie asks her father, as he clears the papers from the meeting. When Lizzie goes to grab the papers, Mr. Borden slaps her. Wingate enters with a hand hatchet and says that the neighbors have broken into the shed. This angers Mr. Borden, who takes the hatchet from Wingate and slams it into the table, yelling, "There'll be no more of your god damn birds in this yard!!"


Further complicating the story is the issue of Lizzie's queerness. Lizzie maintains a close relationship with her father, but we also get some clues to his attitude towards her perceived sexuality or androgyny in the stage directions. We the audience know that Lizzie is carrying on some kind of romantic relationship with the Actress in the present, and the question of her sexual preference and her inability to conform to the standards of her gender seems to haunt her familial relations. In the scene between Lizzie and Mr. Borden, the stage direction reads, "She has the qualities he would like in a son but deplores in a daughter," implying that a certain amount of the strain in their relationship has to do with others' perceptions that Lizzie simply does not act the way a woman should.

In this same conversation with Mr. Borden, Lizzie invokes a metaphor that describes what is expected of her as a woman in society. She tells him, "I'm supposed to be a mirror. I'm supposed to reflect what you want to see, but everyone wants something different. If no one looks in the mirror, I'm not even there, I don't exist!" Lizzie sees the role of a woman in society as being to reflect other people's projections back to them, which leaves no room for the woman to have an identity of her own. Thus we see that Lizzie's grief with her family and with society has to do with her resentment about gender inequality and her desire to be treated as an autonomous individual.

By staging this conflict between Lizzie and her family, and the contentious ramifications it has, Pollock begins to foreshadow the possibility of violence and murder. She shows both that Lizzie is being forced into a social system that she does not fit into, and that she is particularly forceful in her rebellion against her family. She is a victim of the society in which she lives, but she also fights back with a fervor that is met with coldness and violent resistance from those close to her.

A great deal of Lizzie's disenfranchisement has to do with the fact that she has no money of her own and no way of making or handling her own financial affairs. She is completely in thrall not only to her father, but also her step-uncle, Wingate, who wants to make his own money using Mr. Borden's. In this we see that the gender solidarity between Wingate and Borden is stronger than the solidarity of family between Borden and his daughter, and it is this msiogynistic betrayal that is particularly disturbing to Lizzie.

Furthermore, Mr. Borden proves to be an abusive father, yelling at Lizzie when she does not cooperate, slapping her, and slamming a hatchet into the dining table before telling her she is no longer allowed to keep birds. Lizzie is rebellious and strong-willed, but she is also attacked and pacified by the strong arm of her violent and unsympathetic father. The depiction of Lizzie's abuse changes the audience's perception of her. While the historical personage Lizzie Borden is thought of as a sociopathic killer, Pollock's play asks us to look at her as a victim of patriarchy and abuse, as someone who was trying to create a life for herself under difficult circumstances.