The Homecoming

The Homecoming Literary Elements





Setting and Context

1950s London

Narrator and Point of View

Third person

Tone and Mood

Biting, incisive, witty, ambiguous, aggressive, enigmatic

Protagonist and Antagonist

None; almost all characters could be considered protagonists or antagonists

Major Conflict

What will be Ruth's role in the family?


When Lenny kisses Ruth and she kisses back, it is the climax of the play. From this point on, the play deals with Ruth's arrangement with the family.


-When Max talks about having an instinct for animals and smelling a good or bad horse, it foreshadows his awareness that Ruth may be a "bad" one who is using them
-All of Sam's comments about MacGregor foreshadow his eventual revelation of the secret
-Ruth getting the key from Teddy foreshadows her "ownership" of the family


-"Why don't I just take you?" (Ruth, 34)


-multiple characters make mention to the Second World War and the Italian campaign
-the Savoy, a luxury hotel in London (72)
-the Alfa is an Alfa Romeo (67)
-"je ne sais quoi" is French for "I don't know" (65)


see other entry


The most conspicuous paradox in the play (and more generally in Western culture) is that women are supposed to be a whore AND a virgin. They are supposed to be chaste and pure but then seductive when men want them to be. Ruth must be respectable and not a slut; once the men of the family decide this, they can "possess" her. At this point, though, she paradoxically is no longer respectable because she is degraded as she is dominated.





Use of Dramatic Devices

-monologues (Lenny)
-classic stage directions for actors
-subplot of Sam's secret of Jessie and MacGregor
-metonymy: "I'm going to give you the boot" (Max, 19) to describe kicking Sam out of the house