"I'm gonna be a woman, not a news-getting machine. I'm gonna have babies and take care of them. Give 'em cod liver oil and watch their teeth grow."
After angrily announcing her resignation from journalism, Hildy says this to the group of male journalists assembled in the pressroom. This quote shows that at this point in the movie, she is ready to marry Bruce and settle down and have children with him. In her estimation, being a woman is the opposite of being a journalist. She clearly doesn't think very highly of journalism, referring to her previous job as being a "news-getting machine." In contrast to the utilitarian, fast-paced, chaotic life of a journalist, Hildy wants to a "real woman," to have babies and take care of them.
"You're getting a great little girl for yourself...You're getting something else too, Bruce, you're getting a great newspaperman ... One of the best I ever knew. Sorry to see her go. Darn sorry, Hildy."
When he goes to lunch with Bruce and Hildy, Walter makes a big show of how sorry he will be when Hildy leaves the paper. Even though the viewer knows that Walter has plans to get Hildy to come back to him, he makes it seem to Bruce that he is happily giving their marriage his blessing. Here, he notes that Hildy is a "great newspaperman," i.e. a great journalist. In telling Hildy's new husband what a good writer she is, and cheekily gendering her as a "man," Walter obliquely lets Hildy (and Bruce) know that he thinks she's making the wrong decision.
"I figure I'm in one business that really helps people. Of course, we don't help you much while you're alive, but afterward—that's what counts!"
Here, Bruce tells Walter a little bit about himself. An insurance salesman, Bruce takes a lot of pride in what he does, but doesn't have that many ambitions. In this quote, he explains to Walter that he thinks that his career is really beneficial to people and especially helpful to the world, aside from the fact that it doesn't really have an impact on people until after they're dead. In contrast to Walter, who is spontaneous, excitable, and up-to-date, Bruce is boring and has a conventional job selling insurance. This line shows the way that Bruce is a bit of a bore.
Bruce: He's not the man for you. I can see that. But I sort of like him. He's got a lot of charm.
Hildy: Well, he comes by it naturally. His grandfather was a snake.
During their lunch, Walter gets up to clean up some liquid he intentionally spilled on his suit in order to step away and plan something with the waiter. While he is gone, Bruce turns to Hildy and tells her that he's pleasantly surprised by his impression of Walter. While he can see why Walter and Hildy split up, he is also very taken in by Walter's charms, and thinks he is a decent fellow. Filled with sarcastic disdain for her ex-husband, Hildy jokingly attributes Walter's charm to his being related to a snake, an animal that is typically perceived as devious and untrustworthy.
"Oh, well don't get technical at a time like this. Do you realize what you've done, honey? You've taken a city that's been graft-ridden for 40 years under the same old gang. With this yarn, you're kicking 'em out. They're giving us a chance to have the same kind of government New York's having under LaGuardia. Listen honey, if I didn't have your best interest at heart, do you think I'd waste my time arguin' with ya? You've done something big, Hildy. You've stepped up into a new class."
When Hildy wants to go and bail Bruce out of jail for the second time, Walter convinces her to stay in the pressroom by saying this, and telling her how important her journalistic work is. At every turn, Hildy comes very close to leaving the newspaper behind once and for all and getting on a train to Albany to start a new life with Bruce. It is Walter's job to convince her to stay, and it's not a very difficult task, as she is easily taken with the promise of glory and righteousness as a reporter. Here, Walter insists that Hildy's work on the Earl Williams story is going to make a huge impact and dismantle the corruption taking place in the government.
"If you want me, Bruce, you've gotta take me as I am instead of trying to change me into something else. I'm no suburban bridge player. I'm a newspaperman. Darn it."
Hildy says this when Bruce comes to the pressroom to see what's taking her so long. He is surprised to find her sitting at a desk, puffing away at a cigarette and writing up a story. In fact, she barely registers that he's come into the pressroom because she is so absorbed by her work. As he struggles to get her attention, she brusquely informs him that she only wants to marry him if he can handle her as a "newspaperman," the term that Walter used to describe her earlier. This moment stands out because it is one of the only times that Hildy admits to loving the life of a journalist. Most of the time she speaks ill of the newspaperman's life, and expresses a desire for domestic bliss. Here, however, in the midst of a new story, Hildy is completely in her element, and warns Bruce that she's committed to the newspaper.
"You've got an old fashioned idea divorce is something that lasts forever, 'til death do us part.' Why divorce doesn't mean anything nowadays, Hildy, just a few words mumbled over you by a judge."
This is a characteristically clever and slippery line delivered by Walter early on in the film. He tells Hildy, his ex-wife, that she has a rigid notion of divorce. With his usual debonair wit, he talks about divorce in the way that others might talk about marriage. Just as someone might say that someone who believes that marriage lasts forever is old-fashioned, Walter suggests that Hildy's belief that divorce should last forever is old-fashioned. In other words: he wants to get back together.
"And I still claim I was tight the night I proposed to you. If you had been a gentleman, you would have forgotten all about it. But not you!"
Yet another one-liner from Walter in the first scene. He jokes that he had been intoxicated on the night that he finally decided to propose to Hildy all those years ago. He makes a joke that if Hildy had been a "gentleman," she would have disregarded the proposal. By misgendering Hildy as a man, Walter teases her about her forthright, masculine qualities, and suggests that their marriage was a result of her impropriety. While it is difficult to fully understand what exactly Walter means, he is suggesting that, much in the way that a man might take advantage of an intoxicated woman, Hildy took advantage of him by accepting his proposal.
Hildy: I thought you were really sending me away with Bruce. I didn't know you had him locked up. I thought you were on the level for once. I think you were just standing by and letting me go off with him without doing a thing about it.
Walter: Oh come on, honey. What do you think I was? A chump?
Hildy: And I thought you didn't love me.
Walter: Oh, what were you thinking with?
At the end, Hildy breaks down crying after she receives the call that Bruce is in jail for a third time. Walter is very confused; he has never actually seen her cry. As he questions her, he realizes that she is crying from relief, because she thought that Walter didn't want her back anymore. She tells him that when he sent her to go away with Bruce, she believed that he didn't want her back anymore, and that made her frightened and sad. When she hears that Walter thought of another way to land Bruce in jail, Hildy is so relieved that Walter still wants to prevent her getting married that she weeps uncontrollably.
"He looks like that fellow in the movies—Ralph Bellamy."
In his office, Walter turns to Diamond Louie and his female friend, a seductive looking blonde, looking for a way to throw Bruce off Hildy's course. He decides to send the blonde woman to go talk to Bruce in the cab where he is waiting for Hildy outside the pressroom. When she asks Walter what Bruce looks like, Walter tells her he looks like Ralph Bellamy, the joke being that Bruce Baldwin is being played by none other than Ralph Bellamy.
His Girl Friday Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for His Girl Friday is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.