Harvey Fierstein's five-scene one-act play On Tiding Endings uses as its main theme the oppressive structures of roles and sexuality in society and their impact on individual lives.
Marion, a heterosexual woman, and Arthur, a gay male, are brought together by the death from AIDS of Marion's ex-husband and Arthur's recently deceased male partner, Collin. The conflict begins immediately, as Marion shows insensitivity toward homosexuality when asking Arthur how could she tell her son, "[your] father is leaving his mother to go sleep with other men" (Fierstein 1988). Arthur becomes sarcastic, when Marion says she is keeping her ex-husband's high school yearbook, "Sure. I'm only interested in his gay period" (Fierstein 1988).
As they try to put Collin's affairs in order, the two continue to clash over a number of subjects. Marion confesses that she was brought up with the belief that loving someone was enough, "You count your blessings and you settle" (Fierstein 1988). When Arthur explains "Nobody has to settle", Marion tells him he can inform everyone "up yours" and take off without encumbrance (Fierstein 1988). This shows Marion believes stereotypes that homosexuals are not as committed as heterosexuals to commitment.
The pair also clash when it comes to their loss of Collin. Marion confesses that she always kept hope alive that Collin would one day "get over all of this and come home" (Fierstein 1988). This illustrates a belief that sexuality is a "choice" and that gay people choose to be gay. However, it also shows Marion's pain of losing Collin. Arthur informs her that his commitment and sacrifices for Collin make him the sole owner of the memories of loss, "This is not your moment of grief; it's mine. These condolences do not belong to you; they're mineàI have paid in full for my place in his life and I will not share it with you" (Fierstein 1988).
Despite their differences in sexuality and perspecti