Gambling features prominently in Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling, and Abe Burrows’ musical, GUYS & DOLLS. Finding a safe location for the floating crap game drives much of the story – as does Sky’s bet that he’ll take Sarah Brown, one of the Mission workers, to Havana. But gambling is also an underlying theme of the musical. Throughout the show, the characters clearly view marriage as a gamble, and gambling becomes entwined in both Nathan and Adelaide’s relationship and Sky and Sarah’s.
Many of the characters refer to marriage as a gamble. When long-engaged Adelaide wants to elope, Nathan becomes increasingly nervous about the lack of preparation. “Ain’t that unhealthy?” he asks when he hears that he and Adelaide wouldn’t even need a blood test if they eloped to Maryland, and one of his friends offers to lend Nathan his getaway car. Adelaide and Sarah come to accept that marriage – like gambling – contains a fair amount of risk. “You’ve simply got to gamble,” Adelaide admits. “You get no guarantee,” Sarah agrees. Sky’s view of marriage takes things even further, as he hopes that the way he meets his future wife will be similar to gambling. “Mine will come as a surprise to me,” he tells Sarah. “Mine, I leave to chance – to chemistry.”
Gambling also directly affects these two relationships. Sky and Sarah meet and fall in love because of a bet, and Nathan finally commits to marrying Adelaide as cover for a craps game. As soon as he meets Sarah, Sky treats the relationship as a gamble, even giving her his marker, and his way to win Sarah back is to promise her he’ll fill the Mission with gamblers – which he accomplishes by winning a bet.
By the end of the show, Sky and Sarah are married and both work at the Mission, where Nathan and Adelaide get married. Despite all their concerns, the gamble these four take on each other seems to pay off.