Harvey FiersteinÆs 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 MarionÆs ex-husband and ArthurÆs recently deceased male partner, Collin. The conflict begins immediately, as Marion shows insensitivity toward homosexuality when asking Arthur how could she tell her son, ô[your] father is leaving his mother to go sleep with other menö (Fierstein 1988). Arthur becomes sarcastic, when Marion says she is keeping her ex-husbandÆs high school yearbook, ôSure. IÆm only interested in his gay periodö (Fierstein 1988).
As they try to put CollinÆs 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, ôYou count your blessings and you settleö (Fierstein 1988). When Arthur explains ôNobody has to settleö, Marion tells him he can inform everyone ôup yoursö 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 ôget over all of this and come homeö (Fierstein 1988). This illustrates a belief that sexuality is a ôchoiceö and that gay people choose to be gay. However, it also shows MarionÆs pain of losing Collin. Arthur informs her that his commitment and sacrifices for Collin make him the sole owner of the memories of loss, ôThis is not your moment of grief; itÆs mine. These condolences do not belong to you; theyÆre mineàI have paid in full for my place in his life and I will not share it with youö (Fierstein 1988).