The final scene returns to Marie’s house, later that night. Marie is feeding the birds. Cassie is talking about different ways she could murder her husband, fully aware of the contrast between Marie and herself:
She wouldn’t squash a caterpillar if she found it in her salad and here’s me talking about murder.
The tensions between Nora and Cassie break out again, as they argue about their respective husbands and Cassie’s resentments once more surface. Cassie tells her mother she wants to leave, and lifts the picture to find her money, which is no longer there.
Just as Nora’s dream of escape through redesigning her front room with the material was destroyed so, too, is Cassie’s.
Cassie then cruelly turns on Marie and gradually demolishes her illusions. Marie says:
I’ve a lot to be thankful for. I’ve my kids, a job, a nice wee house and I can pay for it. Each of these things is ridiculed by Cassie:
A part-time job licking envelopes for a wage that wouldn’t keep a budgie.
Marie tries to draw strength from her memories of Michael:
I’ve had better times with Michael than a lot of women get in their whole lives with a man. But Cassie brutally demolishes this illusion too by revealing her own relationship with him.
Marie now loses all her self-control and throws Cassie out. She tries to repeat her story of how
your daddy was a good man to her child, but cannot continue.
This revelation would appear to mark the climax of the play - but there is more to come. Deirdre enters to return the stolen money, having just escaped from the attentions of the men at the club. She now tells Marie that Michael was her father and that she had seen him with Cassie.
In this scene, which reveals so many truths, the audience has now learnt yet another: that Marie is not
just a wee girl with a smile who feeds the birds. She admits that she, too, has bitterness within her. She grabs Deirdre’s knife and slashes Michael’s picture. Marie has been deluding herself, refusing to face up to a truth she already knew about Michael. She tells Deirdre:
I knew who you were the first time I saw you.
After this emotional crisis Marie’s essentially good nature re-emerges. She returns to feeding the birds and putting the kettle on, suggesting that she will continue to be the Marie who is:
brave and coping great and never complaining