What happened to Emily's baby?
In Act 3, we learn from the undertaker that Emily has died:
Joe Stoddard: Had some trouble bringing a baby into the world. ’Twas her second, though. There’s a little boy ‘bout four years old.The now-dead Mrs. Gibbs confirms that Emily died "in childbirth". Emily then joins Mrs. Gibbs and the other dead onstage:
Emily: My boy is spending the day at Mrs. Carter's. (She sees Mr. Carter among the dead.) Oh, Mr. Carter, my little boy is spending the day at your house.Clearly, Emily is talking about her four-year-old son. Later:
Mr. Carter: Is he?
Emily: Yes, he loves it there.
Emily: But, Mother Gibbs, one can go back; one can go back there again…into living. I feel it. I know it. Why just then for a moment I was thinking about…about the farm…and for a minute I was there, and my baby was on my lap as plain as day.
Mrs. Gibbs: Yes, of course you can.The "rules" of Wilder's afterlife seem only to allow reliving days, not resuming life as if one had never died. So the baby Emily refers to here must again be her now-four-year-old son.
Emily: I can go back there and live all those days over again…why not?
Finally, when Emily is advised to relive only an "unimportant day", she says:
Emily: Then it can’t be since I was married; or since the baby was born.Once more, "the baby" has to be her four-year-old. And that's the last mention of Emily's offspring in the play.
So...what happened to the baby Emily died delivering?
• Did it live? Emily never mentions it, or even who's taking care of it during the funeral, as she does with her four-year-old son. So this option doesn't seem likely.
• Did it die? In that case, why doesn't it join Emily among the dead onstage (as impractical as it would be to stage this)? Is there some sort of afterlife daycare? Why is there no mention or sign of a funeral for the baby?
Wilder's notion of Emily dying during childbirth is deeply poignant. But by choosing it, he introduces a question into the play that doesn't seem to have a satisfactory answer.