Act One: Daily Life:The Stage Manager enters and places a table and three chairs down. He places a bench at the corner of the Webb House. It is May 7, 1901, just before dawn. The Stage Manager describes the town of Groverís Corner, as well as some of its people. He tells the audience that Dr. Frank Gibbs is coming down Main Street; he died in 1930. His wife, Julia Hersey Gibbs, died long before while visiting her daughter, Rebecca, in Canton, Ohio.
Dr. Gibbs has been coming along Main Street. Mrs. Webb, a thin, serious, crisp woman, has entered her kitchen. Joe Crowell, Jr. (11) starts down Main Street, hurling newspaper into doorways. He greets Dr. Gibbs, and asks if anybody has been sick. Dr. Gibbs tells him that twins were born in Polish Town. Joe tells him that his schoolteacher, Miss Foster, is marrying a man in Concord. Joe can tell by his knee that it wonít rain today. The Stage Manager tells the audience that Joe grew up to get a scholarship to Massachusetts Tech. But he died during the war in France. Howie Newsome, about thirty, comes delivering the milk. Dr. Gibbs told him that Mrs. Goruslawski just had twins. His horse is Bessie, who is going on seventeen. Mrs. Gibbs calls for George and Rebecca to go off to school. He tells her that Mrs. Wentworth is coming at eleven for an appointment about her stomach. She tells Dr. Gibbs to talk to George, who doesnít want to work anymore and only thinks about baseball. Mrs. Webb calls to her children to go to school. Rebecca asks her mother what to wear to school. She tells her to wear the blue gingham (which Rebecca hates). The stage manager tells the audience that there is a factory in town. Mrs. Webb tells her children not to read at the table and to eat slowly. Emily, her daughter, tells her that she is the brightest girl in school for her age. Wally says that he is bright when he looks at his stamp collection. Mrs. Gibbs thinks that George spends too much (on strawberry phosphates) and Rebecca spends too little. The thing Rebecca loves most is money. Mrs. Gibbs goes to feed the chickens, and says hello to Myrtle Webb. Mrs. Gibbs tells Mrs. Webb that a secondhand-furniture man offered her $30 for Grandmother Wentworthís highboy, which she almost gave to Cousin Hester Wilcox. Mrs. Gibbs says that sheíll sell it if Dr. Gibbs will use the money to take her to Paris. Dr. Gibbs feels that going away might make him discontented with Groverís Corners. The only place that Dr. Gibbs goes is to Civil War battlefields (every two years). Mr. Webb is interested in Napoleon. The stage manager introduces Professor Willard of the State University, to speak about Groverís Corners. The population is 2640 (the postal district brings in 507). The mortality and birth rates are constant at 6.032. Mr. Webb, the editor of the Grover Cornerís Sentinel tells more statistics: 86% Republican, 6% Democrat, 4% Socialist; 10% illiterate laborers; 85% Protestants, 12% Catholic. There isnít much drinking in Groverís Corners. There is small culture in the town. Now the kids are coming home from school. George tells Emily that she made a fine speech in class about the Louisiana Purchase. George suggests to Emily that she help him a bit on algebra. George wants to be a farmer. He is almost sixteen. Emily asks Mrs. Webb if Emily is pretty, and she answers yes. Mrs. Webb was the prettiest girl in town next to Mamie Cartwright. The Cartwrights are bankers. Simon Stinson instructs George and Emily during choir. They discuss algebra. Simon asks them if they will be able to sing at Fred Herseyís wedding. Dr. Gibbs asks George what he wants to do after schoolís over. He raises his allowance by 25 cents. Mrs. Soames talks about the worst scandal that ever was in the town to Mrs. Gibbs. Simon Stimson, the church organist, is a drunk. Mrs. Gibbs scolds her, and tells her that Dr. Ferguson knows. Dr. Gibbs and his wife talk about a vacation. Mrs. Gibbs tells her husband that Mrs. Fairchild always locks her front door, and so do all people in her part of the town. It is nine-thirty. Constable Warren, an elderly policeman, comes along Main Street. He talks to Mr. Webb, who just put the newspaper to bed. Mr. Webb tells Warren to give his son a word if he sees him smoking. Mr. Webb finds that Emily isnít in bed, because she cannot sleep. Rebecca tells George about the letter that Jane Crofut got from the minister.
Act Two: Love and Marriage: Three years have gone by. It is July 7th in 1904, just after High School Commencement. Si Crowell is delivering the newspapers, just like his brother. Heís depressed because theyíve lost the best baseball pitcher Groverís Corners ever had. Constable Warren says that there is a better player- Hank Todd- who back in 1884 was the best. Dr. Gibbs and Mrs. Gibbs discuss their sonís marriage. They think that he isnít ready. They discuss how awful weddings are. Dr. Gibbs was afraid that they wouldnít have enough to talk about. George comes down the stairs, going to see his girl. Mrs. Webb wonít let him see her because he canít see her until the wedding. George is alarmed that Emily is asleep. Mr. Webb gives George advice- to be the boss and never let the wife know how much money he has. Mr. Webb says that no father-in-law should ever see the groom on the day of the wedding. The stage manager announces a flashback: George and Emily are having the conversation in which they realize that they were meant to be together. George offers to carry Emilyís books home. They bid farewell to Miss Corcoran. Emily tells George that heís become a bit conceited. George accepts that he isnít perfect, but Emily says that her father and his father both are. George invites her to get an ice-cream soda with him. George is celebrating the election and her honesty. George tells her that he is not going to Agriculture School because he has found someone for him. George leaves his gold watch with Mr. Morgan as collateral, because he forgot his money. The flashback is over; it is time for the wedding. The stage manager (as the minister) performs the ceremony. Mrs. Webb cries during teh wedding. The baseball players whistle and yell crude remarks. George tells his mother that he doesnít want to grow old and asks why everybody is pushing him. Emily is confused. They marry.
Act Three: Nine years have passed. There is a cemetary:Mrs. Gibbs, Simon Stimson, Mrs. Soames, and Wally Webb (whose appendix burst) are each there now. Everybody locks their doors now in Groverís Corners. Joe Stoddard, the undertaker, is supervising a new grave. Sam Craig enters, carrying an umbrella. He is returned from the west for the funeral. The ghosts speak about Sam Craig. Simon took his own life by hanging. Emily died during childbirth. Mrs. Soames reminisces about her lovely wedding and her reading of the class poem at Graduation. Emily greets the other ghosts. She tells Mrs. Gibbs that they bought the new barn with her $350 legacy. She tells Mrs. Gibbs that they have a Ford. Emily feels that she can return to living. Mrs. Gibbs warns her not to. Mrs. Gibbs says that sheíll be able to see herself making decisions and know whatís going to happen. Mrs. Gibbs tells her to choose the least important day of her life. Emily chooses her twelfth birthday- February 11, 1899. Her father had been at Clinton. Emily realizes that human beings never realize life while they live it. She realized that human beings are just blind people.