The Inspector reports that Eva/Daisy has killed herself by drinking “disinfectant,” which has ravaged the inside of her body. This disinfectant should, symbolically, make her “clean,” but it destroys her. In the same way, the Inspector’s questions should “make clean” the family, by bringing people’s secrets into the light of day. But these secrets nearly tear the family apart, too. Even after Gerald and Arthur question the Inspector’s legitimacy, the last phone call and the renewed presence of disinfectant again bring up the idea that there is dirt that must be cleaned away by the asking of questions.
Realizing that they could each have been shown a different photograph, and after calling the Chief Constable to confirm their suspicions, Mr. and Mrs. Birling and Gerald conclude that they have been hoaxed, and they are incredibly relieved. Gerald suggests that there were probably several different girls in each of their stories. They call the Infirmary and learn delightedly that no girl has died that night—the Infirmary has seen no suicide for months. Everyone, it seems, is off the hook, even if each of their actions was immoral and irresponsible. Only Sheila and Eric fail to agree with that sentiment and recognize the overall theme of responsibility. As Birling mocks his children’s feelings of moral guilt, the phone rings.