In December 1940, an east-bound cross-country train carries the bodies of the great American writers Nathanael West and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Also on board is May, who shares her seat with a charming young flyer, Raleigh. Religious and bookish, May plans to be a missionary. Raleigh has been given a medical discharge and, inspired by West and Fitzgerald, is heading to New York to be a writer. Raleigh and May discover they are from neighboring Appalachian towns, and he decides to change trains for Kentucky, promising to take May to the next Nibroc Festival. Scene Two finds May and Raleigh at the festival, but a year and half later. Unfit for war, and needing to support his parents, Raleigh has been working in a Detroit factory. May is teaching school and dating an itinerant preacher. When Raleigh confronts her, May admits her prejudices against his family. It is not until the following spring as they sit on May's front porch, watching a lumberyard fire in the distance, that the two are finally able to resolve their differences and discover the depth of their feelings. May accepts Raleigh's sudden proposal to elope, as the sky grows red like a sunrise.
Bess Rowen '09