A Parody Outline of History
By Donald Ogden Stewart

Presented by

Public Domain Books

Chapter Nine: “For the Freedom of the World” - A Drama Of the Great War
Act I: In the Manner of Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews
Act 2: In the Manner of Eugene O’Neill

Act One
(Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews)


A principal street of an American city in the spring of 1918.

At the rear of the stage, representing the opposite sidewalk of the street, are gathered many people come to bid farewell to the boys of the Blankth regiment who are soon to march past on their way to France.

Extending across the “street”, from footlights to “sidewalk”, is a large white plaster arch, gayly decorated with the Allied colors.

On this arch is the inscription “For the Freedom of the World.”

At the rising of the curtain, distant march music is heard (off stage, right); this constantly grows louder during the ensuing dialogue which takes place between three elderly women crowded together at the edge of the sidewalk. These women, although, before the war, of different stations in social rank, are now united, as are all mothers in the Allied countries, by the glorious badge which each proudly wears pinned over her heart—the service star.

The Professor’s Wife—I hear them coming.

The Street-cleaner’s Wife—So do I. I hope my boy Pat sees me.

The Pawnbroker’s Wife—I told my Jean where to look.

The approaching music and the cheering of the spectators drowns out further conversation.

Enter (right) the regimental band playing the “Stars and Stripes Forever.” They march through the arch and exit left. Following them comes the flag, at the sight of which all the male spectators (young boys and men too old to fight) remove their hats. After the colors come the troops, splendid clean faced fellows, in whose eyes shines the light of civilization’s ideals, in whose ears rings the never forgettable cry of heroic France and brave little Belgium. The boys are marching four abreast, with a firm determined step; it is as though each man were saying to himself “They shall not pass.”

After the first few squads have marched through the arch and off left, the command is issued off-stage “Company—HALT.” A young lieutenant repeats this order to his men, and the column comes to a stop. The men stand at attention until given the command “Rest”, when they relax and a murmur of conversation arises from the ranks, in which characteristic sentences “German ideals are not our ideals” and “Suppose it was your own sister” show only too well what the boys are thinking of day and night.

As the column halts, the three service star mothers rush out from the curb and embrace their sons who happen to be in this company. At the same time a very attractive girl runs up to the young lieutenant.

The Lieutenant—Ellen!
His Fiancee—John!
The Professor’s Son}
The Streetcleaner’s Son } Mother!
The Pawnbroker’s Son }

The Professor’s Wife }
The Streetcleaner’s Wife } My Boy!
The Pawnbroker’s Wife }
Voice off stage—Company—Atten SHUN!

 The farewells are said, the men come to attention.

Voice off stage—Forward—MARCH

The Lieutenant—(Pointing with his sword to the inscription on the arch)—Forward for the Freedom of the World—MARCH.

The men’s teeth click together, their heads are thrown back, and with a light in their eyes that somehow suggests Joan of Arc the Crusaders move on.


 Three months later.

A section of an American front line trench now occupied by the Blankth regiment.

It is early morning and the three soldiers mentioned in Scene 1 are conversing together for perhaps the last time, for soon they are to be given the chance which every American man desires more than anything in the world— the opportunity to go “over the top”.

The Professor’s Son—Well fellows, in a few minutes we shall be able to show the people at home that their boys are not cowards when the fate of civilization is at stake.

The Pawnbroker’s Son—Here’s a newspaper clipping mother sent me. It’s from a speech made the other day in Congress. (He reads) “And we and our children—and our children’s children will never forget the debt we owe those brave boys who are now in France.”

The Streetcleaner’s Son—That makes a fellow feel pretty good inside, doesn’t it? It makes me glad I’m doing my bit— and after the war I hope the ideals which have inspired us all will make us better citizens in a better world.

The Professor’s Son—Not only will we be better citizens— not only will the torch of liberty shine more brightly—but also each one of us will go back to his job with a deeper vision.

The Pawnbroker’s Son—That’s right I am a musician—a pianist, you know—and I hope that after the war I shall be able to tell America, through my music, of the glory of this holy cause.

The Professor’s Son—I didn’t know you were a pianist.

The Pawnbroker’s Son—Yes—ever since I was a boy—I have had no other interest. My father tried to make me go into his shop but I couldn’t stand it. He got angry and refused to support me; I had a hard time until I won a scholarship at a New York musical college. Just before the war I had a chance to play the Schumann concerto with the Philharmonic; the critics all said that in another year I would be— but fellows—you must think me frightfully conceited to talk so, and besides what matters my musical career in comparison with the sacrifice which everyone is making?

The Streetcleaner’s Son—And gladly making, too, for it is easy to give up all, as did Joan of Arc, for France. Attention, men! here comes one of our officers.

 The three stand at attention.

Enter the Lieutenant.

The Lieutenant—Well, men, do you feel ready?

The Three—More than ready, sir—eager.

The Lieutenant—Brave men! (To the Professor’s Son) Come here a minute, Keating. I have something to ask you before we go over the top.

The Professor’s Son and the Lieutenant go to one side.

The Lieutenant—(To the other two in a kindly manner)—At ease!

The Streetcleaner’s Son—Thank you, sir.

They relax from their rigid posture of “attention”.

The Lieutenant—(To the Professor’s Son)—Keating, when we “go over”, we—may—never come back, you know. And I want to ask a favor of you. I am engaged—to a girl back home—here is her picture (he draws a photograph from his inner breast pocket and shows it to the Professor’s Son.)

The Professor’s Son—She is beautiful, Sir.

The Lieutenant—(Putting the photograph back in his pocket)— Yes very beautiful. And (dropping his eyes)—I love her. If—if I should “go west” I want you to write her and tell her that my last thoughts were of my country and—her. We are to be married— after the war—if (suddenly clearing his throat). Her name is Ellen Radcliff—here, I’ll write the address down for you.

He does so, and hands the slip of paper to the Professor’s Son, who discreetly turns away.

The Lieutenant—(Brusquely)—That’s all, Keating.

A bugle sounds.

The Lieutenant—Attention men! At the next bugle call you go over the top— remember that you are Americans and that Americans know how to fight and die in the cause of liberty and for the freedom of the world. The Three Soldiers—We are ready to make the supreme sacrifice if need be.

 The bugle sounds.

The Lieutenant—(Climbing up the ladder to the top of the trench)— Follow me, men—

The Three Soldiers—(Climbing up after him)—Lafayette—we come, though poppies bloom in Flanders field.

 They go “over the top”.


 A section of a Hun trench a minute later. Two Hun soldiers are conversing together; another Hun is reading a copy of Nietzsche.

First Hun Soldier—And then we cut the hands off all the little children— oh it was wonderful.

Second Hun Soldier—I wish I had been there.

 A Hun Lieutenant rushes in.

The Hun Lieutenant—(Kicking the three men and brandishing his revolver)—Swine—wake up—here come the Americans.

 The three spring to their feet and seize their guns. At the top of the trench appears the American lieutenant, closely followed by the three soldiers.

The American Lieutenant—(Coolly)—We come to avenge the sinking of the Lusitania.

The Hun Lieutenant—Hoch der Kaiser! Might is stronger than right!

He treacherously tries to shoot the American but the Professor’s Son disarms him with his bayonet. The three Hun soldiers offer a show of resistance.

The Streetcleaner’s Son—(To first Hun soldier)—Your hands are unclean with the murder of innocent women and children.

First Hun Soldier—(Dropping his gun)—Kamerad!

The Pawnbroker’s Son—(To the other Hun soldiers)— Prussianism has destroyed the Germany of Bach and Beethoven and you fellows know it, too.

Second and third Hun Soldiers—(Dropping their guns)—Kamerad!

The American Lieutenant—Men—you have kept the faith. I am proud of you. Forward!

 An explosion (not too loud to annoy the audience) is heard off stage right.

The Professor’s Son—(Sinking to the ground) Fellows, I’m afraid they’ve got me.

The Streetcleaner’s Son—What a shame!

The Lieutenant—Is there anything we can do to ease the pain?

The Professor’s Son—(Weakening rapidly) No—go on, boys, carry the—banner of—civilization’s ideals—forward—without me— Tell mother I’m glad—I did—my bit—for the freedom— of the world—fellows, the only—thing—I regret—is that I won’t— be able to be with you—when you—go back—to enjoy the gratitude— of America—good-bye, fellows, may you drink—to the full— the rewards of a grateful nation.

He dies. The others regretfully leave him behind as they push on after the fleeing Huns.

The stage is slowly darkened—the noise of battle dies away.

Enter an Angel in the uniform of the Y.M.C.A. She goes up to the fallen hero and taking him in her arms tenderly carries him off the stage.



Act Two
(Eugene O’Neill)


 The bedroom of a bachelor apartment in New York City in the Fall of 1920.

There is about the room an air of neglect, as though the occupant did not particularly give a damn whether he slept in this room or in hell. This is evidenced in a general way by the absence of any attempts at decoration and by the presence of dirty laundry and unopened letters scattered about the room.

The furniture consists of a bed and a bureau; at the foot of the former is a trunk such as was used by American army officers in the recent war.

Although it is three in the morning, the bed is unoccupied. The electric light over the bureau has been left lighted.

The lamp flickers and goes out for a minute; when it again flashes on, the Angel and the Professor’s Son are seen standing in the room, as though they had come there directly from the close of the preceding act; the Angel, however, has completely removed all Y.M.C.A. insignia and now has a beard and chews tobacco; from time to time he spits out of the window.

The angel—Why the hell weren’t you satisfied to stay in heaven?

The Professor’s Son—Well, I just wanted to see my old buddies once more— I want to see them enjoying the gratitude of the world.

The Angel—Hmmmm—well, this is where your Lieutenant now lives— and I think I hear him coming.

 They step behind a curtain. The noise of a key rattling in a lock is heard, then a light flashes on in the next room. The sound of unsteady footsteps—a vase is knocked over—a curse— then enter the Lieutenant.

He wears a dinner-coat, one sleeve of which hangs empty. His face is white, his eyes set, his mouth hard and hopeless. He is drunk—not hilariously—but with the drunkenness of despair.

He sits down on the bed and remains for several minutes, his head in his hands.

The Lieutenant—God, I’m drunk—(after a pause)— drunk again—well, what of it—what the hell difference does it make—get drunk if I want to—sure I will—get drunk— that’s the dope DRUNK—oh Christ!—

He throws himself on the bed and after lying there a few minutes sits up.

The Lieutenant—Gotta have another drink—can’t go sleep, God damn it—brain too clear—gotta kill brain—that’s the dope— kill brain—forget—wipe out past—

He opens the trunk in his search for liquor. He suddenly pulls out his lieutenant’s coat and holds it up,

The Lieutenant—There’s that God damn thing—never wanted to see it again— wound stripes on right sleeve, too—hurrah for brave soldier—arm shot off to—to make world safe for democracy—blaa—the god damn hypocrites— democracy hell—arm shot off because I wasn’t clever enough to stay out of it—ought to have had sense enough to join the—the ordinance department or—or the Y.M.C.A.

He feels aimlessly through the pockets of the coat. Suddenly, from the inside breast pocket he draws out something—a photograph—

The Lieutenant—Ellen! Oh God!

He gazes at the picture for a long time.

The Lieutenant—Yes, Ellen, I should have joined the Y.M.C.A. shouldn’t I?—where they don’t get their arms shot off— couldn’t marry a man with one arm, could you?—of course not— think of looking at an empty sleeve year after year— children might be born with only one arm, too—children—oh God damn you, Ellen, you and your Y.M.C.A. husband!

 He tears the picture in two and hurls it into the trunk. Then he sinks onto the bed, sobbing drunkenly. After a few minutes, he walks over to the trunk and picks up one half of the torn picture. He turns it over in his hand and reads the writing on the back.

The Lieutenant (Reading)—"I’m waiting for you, dear—when you have done your bit ’for the freedom of the world’.”

He smiles, wearily, and reaches down to pick up the other half of the picture. His eye is caught by something shiny; it is his army revolver. He slowly picks it up and looks at it for a long time.

The Lieutenant—For the freedom of the world—

He quickly opens his top bureau drawer and takes out a box of cartridges. One of these he inserts in a chamber of his revolver.

The Lieutenant—For the FREEDOM—

He laughs.

As the curtain falls he presses the revolver against his temple and fires.


 A bare room in a boarding house. To the left is a bed, to the right a grand piano—the latter curiously out of keeping with the other cheap furnishings. The room is in partial darkness.

The door slowly swings open; the Angel and the Professor’s Son enter.

The Angel—And here you have the room of your friend the Pawnbroker’s Son— the musical genius—with a brilliant future.

They hide in a closet, leaving the door partly open.

Enter Jean, the Pawnbroker’s Son. He has on a cutaway suit— a relic of his first and last public concert before the war. His shoulders sag dejectedly and his face is drawn and white. He comes in and sits on the bed. A knock—a determined knock— is heard at the door but Jean does not move. The door opens and his landlady—a shrewish, sharp faced woman of 40—appears. He gets up off the bed when he sees her and bows.

The Landlady—I forgot you was deef or I wouldn’t have wasted my time hitting my knuckles against your door.

Jean gazes at her.

The Landlady—Well Mr. Rosen I guess you know why I’m here— it’s pay up today or get out.

Jean—Please write it down—you know I cannot hear a word you say. I suppose it’s about the rent.

The landlady takes paper and pencil and writes.

The Landlady—(Reading over the result of her labor)— “To-day—is—the—last day. If you can’t pay, you must get out “

She hands it to Jean and he reads.

Jean—But I cannot pay. Next week perhaps I shall get work—

The Landlady—(Scornfully)—Yes—Next week maybe I have to sell another liberty bond for seventy dollars what I paid a hundred dollars for, too. No sir I need the money NOW. Here—

 She writes and hands it to him.

Jean (Reading)—Sell my piano? But please I cannot do that—yet.

The Landlady—A lot of good a piano does a deef person like you. That’s a good one—( She laughs harshly). The deef musician—ho ho— with a piano.

Jean—Madam, I shall pay you surely next week. There has been some delay in my war risk insurance payment. I should think that you would trust a soldier who lost his hearing in the trenches—

The Landlady—That’s old stuff. You soldiers think just because you were unlucky enough to get drafted you can spend the rest of your life patting yourselves on the back. Besides—what good did the war do anyway— except make a lot of rich people richer?

She scribbles emphatically “Either you pay up tonight or out you go.”

Handing this to Jean with a flourish, she exits.

 He sits on the bed for a long time.

Finally he glances up at the wall over his bed where hangs a cheap photo frame. In the center is a picture of President Wilson; on one side of this is a crude print of a soldier, on the other side a sailor; above is the inscription “For the Freedom of the World.”

Jean takes down the picture and looks at it. As he replaces it on the wall he sees hanging above it the bayonet which he had carried through the war. He slowly takes the weapon down, runs his fingers along the edge and smiles—a quiet tired smile which does not leave his face during the rest of the scene.

He walks over to the piano and plays the opening chords of the Schumann concerto. Then shaking his head sadly, he tenderly closes down the lid and locks it.

He next writes a note which he folds and places, with the key to the piano, in an envelope. Sealing and addressing the envelope, he places it on the piano. Then, walking over to the bed, he picks up the bayonet, and shutting his eyes for an instant, he steps forward and cuts his throat as the curtain falls.


 Same as Act 1, Scene 1 except for the changes made in the city street by a year or more of peace.

The arch across the thoroughfare still stands, although it has become badly discolored and dirty; the inscription “For the Freedom of the World” is but faintly visible. As the curtain rises workmen are busy at work tearing the arch down.

 Enter the Angel and the Professor’s Son.

The Angel—Stand over here, out of the way, and you’ll see the last of your cronies—Pat, the Streetcleaner’s Son— enjoying the gratitude of the world.

The Professor’s Son does not answer.

 Enter Pat. He has on an old pair of corduroy trousers, with his brown army shirt, and shoes out at the heel.

He looks as if he had not slept for days certainly he has not shaved for a week. He approaches one of the workmen.

Pat—Say buddy any chance for a job here?

The Workman—Hell no. They was fifty applicants yesterday. (Looking at his army shirt) Most of them ex-soldiers like you. Jobs is mighty scarce.

Pat—I’ll tell the world they are. I’d almost join the army again, except for my wife and kid.

The Workman—God—don’t do it.

Pat—Why—was you across?

The Workman—Yes, God damn it—eight months. Next war I’ll let somebody else do the fighting.

Pat—Same here. The wise guys were them that stayed at home and kept their jobs.

The Workman—I’ll say they were.

Pat—(Growing more excited)—And while we was over there fighting, nothing was too good for us—"brave boys,” they said, “we shall never forget what you have done for us.” Never forget—hell! In about a year everybody forgot there ever was a war and a fellow has a hell of a time getting a job—and when you mention the war they just laugh—why God damn it, I’ve been out of work for six months and I ain’t no loafer either and my wife has had to go back to her folks and I’m just about all in—

 During this speech the work on dismantling the arch has steadily progressed. Suddenly there comes a warning cry—"Look out"—as the supports unexpectedly give way. Pat is too engrossed in his tirade to take heed, and as the center portion of the arch falls it crushes him beneath its weight. After the cloud of dust clears, he is seen lying under the mass. By a curious twist of fate he has been crushed by the portion of the arch bearing the inscription “For the Freedom of the World.” His eyes open for an instant—he reads, through the mist of approaching death, the words, and he laughs—

Pat—For the Freedom of the World—Oh Christ!

His mocking laughter is interrupted by a severe fit of coughing and he sinks back dead.

The Professor’s Son—Oh God—take me somewhere where I can’t ever see the world.

The angel—Come to heaven.



Preface  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    • 

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