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The Glass Menagerie – Summary - Tennessee Williams



The Glass Menagerie – Summary - Tennessee Williams

Characters

1. Amanda Wingfield - Tom and Laura's mother.

2. Tom Wingfield

3. Laura Wingfield

4. Jim O'Connor - the one Tom likes for Laura.

5. Mr. Wingfield - Tom and Laura's father.

 

Flow of events:

The Glass Menagerie is a memoir. The sequence of events is narrated from the memory of a narrator named Tom Wingfield. St. Louis of 1937 has been chosen as the setting. Tom Wingfield is an aspiring poet and he works in a shoe factory. He is survived by his mother Amanda and younger sister Laura. With the exception of one postcard, has not been heard from since. But his presence is pervasive, as his picture still hangs in the family’s living room.

Mrs. Wingfield, also known as Amanda Wingfield, was the daughter of a well-to-do Southern family who used to tell stories of her stylish youth to entertain her children. She also told stories of young men who did many things to get her for their lifepartner. But she is very upset about her own daughter Laura. Because the girl is very shy and has one leg shorter which does not attract any decent young man. Amanda enrolled Laura in a business college. She hoped that by studying, she would be able to build a good business career and be a source of income for their family. A week later, she noticed that Laura was secretly skipping her class because of her shyness, and was wandering around the city alone.

Amanda then saw no hope for Laura other than marriage and started selling magazines for her so that some extra money could come in and she also believed that by doing so she would find a good partner for her daughter. Tom, meanwhile, sought freedom between alcohol, movies, and literature because he disliked his factory job. Laura had a collection of some animals made of glass. One day while arguing with his mother, Tom broke some glass creatures.

Amanda and Tom discuss Laura's current situation and Amanda tells Tom to keep his eyes and ears open in search of a better partner for Laura. Jim O'Connor likes Tom because of his long-standing friendship with him. Amanda asks Tom about Jim and she's happy when Tom says he's moving on with his career. The night Tom invites his friend Jim; Amanda cooks good food and forces Laura to wear nice clothes. At the very last moment Laura learns about the guests of the day. She is very happy because she fell in love with him while she was in high school. When Jim comes home Laura opens the door because Amanda ordered her to do it. But due to excessive shyness, she opened it and left him without telling him anything. Tom and Jim start telling stories. Tom tells Jim that he spends his income to pay the electricity bill for his home. He is considering leaving his job to join a maritime merchant ship. Laura did not come to dinner with them pretending to be ill. Amanda is wearing a gaudy dress from her old days. She was talking to Jim with great pleasure as if they had known each other for a long time.

As soon as they finished eating, the lights went out because their electricity bills had not been paid. The candles were lit and Amanda told Laura to give Jim pleasure by dancing with him because they wanted to clear up the opportunity. Laura behaves a bit paralyzed at first in Jim's presence but with Jim's warm and open behaviour she pulls herself out of her shell. Laura admits to Jim that she liked him when he was in high school but couldn't tell him out of embarrassment. They continued talking, Jim named Laura the Blue Rose, she reminded Jim of that. Jim scolds her a bit for her shyness, but appreciates her uniqueness. Then Laura shows her collection of glass animals, especially the Unicorn. Jim then dances with her, at one point he accidentally breaks its horn. Laura forgives him and the unicorn turns into a normal horse. Jim then kisses her, after a while he regains his composure, apologizes and says he has to leave now because he has a girlfriend. Laura tells him to take the broken unicorn as a memento.

Amanda enters the living room with great pleasure. Jim says he's in a hurry and has to go now because he's supposed to meet his fiance. Amanda bids him farewell with great warmth. But as soon as Jim leaves, Amanda starts blaming Tom. Tom tells them he lost his job. He then leaves them. After a year of traveling he sees a lot of guilt working in him and he can’t forget the memory.

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