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Scene Eugene lonesco Translated from the French by Rosette Lamont A prison cell. A prisoner, Beranger, is seated on his cot. An empty cot against the opposite wall. The cell door swings open following the grating noise of a key turning in the lock. A guard's arm pushes in Vanek. The latter tumbles in, almost falling, then regains his balance. He is still wearing his ordinary street clothes. He casts a look around him, catches sight of Beranger. BERANGER: Hello. VANEK: Sir. BERANGER: Call me by my name, Beranger. No sirs here! VANEK: Mr. Beranger. BERANGER: No Misters neither. VANEK: All right then. Beranger. BERANGER: And you, what's your name? VANEK: Vanek. Vanek Havel. BERANGER: So, you're the revolutionary, the optimist who wanted to change everything? Sit yourself down. (Vanek goes over to the other bed, sits facing Beranger.) VANEK: I wanted to change things ... but it was only a first try. And I wasn't alone ... There'll always be just a few of us, always, at the present time. It's just a drop in the ocean. But a drop is the beginning of billions of drops. I don't really want to change anything, or rather we don't want to make any changes. We would like to give men once again the values, the functions they have lost, of which they feel subconsciously deprived. 108 M Above all personality, initiative, then courage and charity must be restored. BERANGER: Too many things at once. VANEK: And you, why are you here? You've been tried and sentenced. Not 1. I'll tell the judges what I've just told you. They'll understand. BERANGER: They won't understand a thing, or they'll pretend not to understand. It's not to their advantage to understand. I've got ten years left, but I'm cured. I protested publicly against the new privileged class. I wasn't asking for charity, goodness, only for justice and equality. I named names: sinister bureaucrats, magistrates. They said: The revolution is over and done with. We've established justice, equality, what more do you want? That's what they said. Some of them, the ones at the top, lived in gilded palaces; others, in the former apartments of the nobility. They have country houses, servants, oh, sorry, "home employees," as we say today. They shop in special food shops. While most of the country is dying of hunger, or just about, those in command tell us that capitalist countries don't want to send us their goods, that this is the cause of our misery. I believe that there's something amiss with the system of distribution, the wheat sent us is rotting in the depots. Did you hear about the ships that carried rice to India? At night labels were glued to the sacks: Gift of the socialist countries to the Indian people. Socialist countries or no, it was no skin off the Indians' noses. They couldn't care less. They weren't trained to work, not even to unload the bags of rice. But in our country, we don't die of starvation. Oh, no, we want to live and live high on the hog, not like those third world countries. Here the entrenched elite, the red bourgeoisie ought to act like everyone else, stand in line for food for example. But no, they dispatch their "home employees" duly armed with their party card. They shop for delicacies in the special state food stores. Well, that's common knowledge. I'd better stop foaming at the mouth and they'll let me off a bit sooner. When I get out of here I won't indulge in any protests any more. VANEK: Why not? BERANGER: It ain't worth it. VANEK: I remember now, you used to struggle for freedom. BERANGER: Freedom! You've got it since your revolution. That's why they stick you in the can now, isn't it? VANEK: Yes, we've got huge contradictions. BERANGER: That's because of ideology, doctrine. I don't have to tell you that truth has nothing to do with facts. Facts and truth must conform to...


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pp. 108-112
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