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Word Count: 2,328
ONeills one-act Hughie written in 1941 functions as a slice-of-lifestory depicting the interactions between two characters in a seedy WestSide New York City hotel The hotel had once been refined a place thatfostered life but now only sits as a trophy to decay an outwarddemonstration of what is happening inside the characters who inhabit it The seldom-heard from night clerk Charlie Hughes functions simply asa foil to con-man gambler Erie Smith and his tales of invented prestige The story begins with the two meeting as Erie establishes himself andhis name saying he comes from Erie P-A and that if anyone especiallyHughes calls him anything different he more than likely will notrecognize that he is being spoken to After Erie briefly establisheshis past the night clerk mentions that he hails from Saginaw Michiganto which Erie delivers a howling laugh denigrating people from thesticks especially those who chose to take on the work of a nightclerk Strangely as the play continues Erie spends the majority of themiddle portion of the script building himself up establishing himselfas a fine gambler in many respects and a good friend to Hughie therecently deceased night clerk whose job is now occupied by Hughes Erieis preoccupied with his own feats as an Olympic womanizer a man whoopenly brands Hughie as a sucker and one who also vehemently wishesthat Hughie cheated on his wife with one of his dolls Throughoutthese monologues Hughes is completely detached engaging only in briefdialogues with invisible characters who work to illuminate more of theend-of-life Hughie narrative but also reinforce some of the playslarger themes ie the fireman informing Hughes that there is no wayfire can destroy everything and that there will always be some piece ofstone or steel from which to rebuild Sadly by plays end Eriedismisses this idea as ludicrous focusing more on his interests inindoctrinating Hughes into his world of con artistry with Hughes as theprinciple victim
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