Blood Relations

Blood Relations Summary and Analysis of Part 4


Act 2. The Actress asks Miss Lizzie to talk to her, and Lizzie begins talking about the farm when she was little. One day, the farm dog had puppies, and one of the puppies got sick, or at least was different from all the others. She tells the Actress that her father drowned the puppy because "That's what you do on a farm with things that are different."

The Actress, playing Lizzie, asks, "Am I different?" and Lizzie, as Bridget tells her, "You kill them." They look at each other and assume their roles. Bridget goes into the kitchen, as Emma appears at the top of the stairs, dressed for travel. She tells Lizzie that she's going to the beach with her friends and invites her along, but Lizzie gets angry with her, saying, "Someone has to do something, you just run away from things."

Emma tries to express her sympathies about the birds being taken away, but Lizzie gets angrier at her, saying she does not want to talk about it. Lizzie then confronts Emma about the fact that Wingate is getting the farm, after already acquiring the mill house. She suggests that their father is going to leave everything in his will to their stepmother, and not give them any financial independence from beyond the grave.

Lizzie tells Emma that she thinks she should talk to their father and express her feeling that they are individuals who deserve to live separate lives. "There's certain things we have to face. One of them is, we can't change a thing," says Emma, going to leave. Lizzie has an outburst, telling Emma that their father killed her birds with an axe. Emma leaves, as Lizzie bemoans the fact that no one shows her any kindness.

Suddenly, the Defense appears, asking Lizzie to describe what happened. Lizzie says that she spoke with her father, then with Bridget about a yard sale. After Bridget went to her room, Lizzie says, she went to the yard and ate four pears that had fallen from the tree in the shed. Then, she says, she went inside and found her father dead, and called to Bridget.

The Defense disappears and the scene returns to the reenactment. Mrs. Borden comes in, and a stage direction tells us that Lizzie "feels caught in a dimension other than the one in which people around her are operating...Simple acts seem filled with significance." Mrs. Borden wants to take her breakfast in the parlor, and Lizzie is exceedingly nice to her, taking her coffee and biscuit into the parlor for her. When Mr. Borden comes in, Lizzie comments on the fact that he looks sick, and does not trust her own perceptions.

Wingate comes in and Lizzie tells everyone that Emma has left until the weekend. Wingate and Mr. Borden try and communicate about Borden going to the bank to hand over ownership of the farm. Lizzie and Mr. Borden have some privacy and Lizzie asks if she is like him. He tells her she looks like her dead mother, and she acknowledges that her mother died giving birth to her. When Mrs. Borden calls Mr. Borden into the kitchen, Lizzie tells him not to go out that day, and he is confused.

Suddenly, Dr. Patrick appears, whistling an Irish jig. Lizzie dances, and tells Dr. Patrick that she could die if she wanted. He tries to talk her down, but she is in an intense mental space.


In this section, Lizzie tells the Actress about a puppy that was sick and different from the others on the farm that they had. She tells her that her father drowned the puppy, and seems to draw a parallel between the "different" puppy and herself, suggesting that that is what people do to things that are different on farms. She implies that she is the "different" thing that her family wanted to kill or diminish, which makes the audience sympathize with Lizzie's position.

Not long after telling the story of the puppies, Miss Lizzie gives the Actress an ominous instruction, becoming a diabolical director of her own past. She tells her, "You kill them," the first time that Lizzie cops to having murdered her parents. On the heels of a terrifyingly vulnerable story that reveals her own feelings of alienation within her family, Lizzie becomes the murderer that we have all suspected her of being. She admits to her crime within the bounds of her theatrical game with the Actress, giving her actress instructions on how to play the rest of the play. In this way, she obliquely admits to the crime she was charged with committing.

Lizzie's abuse at the hands of her father causes her to blame all of her woes on her stepmother, who she finds easier to resent and hate, and who is at the root of many of her and Emma's problems. She rails against Mrs. Borden, calling her a "cow" and suggesting that she has manipulated him into giving all of his money to her. Indeed, Mrs. Borden is very much complicit in keeping Lizzie and Emma down and in preventing their independence. She is a woman who is only looking out for herself, rather than sympathizing with the feminine plights of her stepdaughters.

On the day of the alleged murders, Lizzie becomes alienated from reality. After an emotional outburst at her sister, Lizzie becomes caught up in some kind of episode, as indicated by the stage directions. They read, "Lizzie, at the same time, feels caught in a dimension other than the one in which the people around her are operating. For Lizzie, a bell-jar effect. Simple acts seem filled with significance. Lizzie is trying to fulfill other people's expectations of 'normal.'" This sets the stage for the imminent murder, while also showing us that Lizzie has an unsound mind; her consciousness is disconnected from reality.

As Lizzie and the other characters begin the reenactment of what happened, the anticipation builds for the murderous act itself. While Lizzie has been living in an abusive and manipulative household, and exhibited an intense rebellious attitude towards her mistreatment, she has not necessarily seemed capable of murder. However, in this section, Lizzie's disillusionment with reality—her haunted demeanor and sense of desperation—begins to make her capacity for murder more plausible. The audience must simply wait for the violence to take place, which creates an ominous and terrifying dramatic tonality.