American Literature Unit 1 The Glass Menagerie

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American Literature Unit 1 The Glass Menagerie

American Literature Unit 1 The Glass Menagerie Notes cover all the exercise questions in UGC Syllabus. The American Literature Unit 1 The Glass Menagerie provided here ensures a smooth and easy understanding of all the concepts. Understand the concepts behind every Unit and score well in the board exams.

76. Why does Tom refer to the gentleman caller as the most realistic character in The Glass Menagerie? 

Ans: At the beginning of the play, Tom, himself, tells the reader/audience that the play is written from his point of view. He has lived and dealt with Amanda and Laura his whole life and is writing their characters from his own perspective which is skewed with emotions brought forward by the memories he is writing. Tom does not have a plethora of emotions tied to memories for Jim; Jim is portrayed by his actions, not by how Tom viewed and remembered Jim’s actions in relation to his own life. 

77. In The Glass Menagerie, why did Amanda marry her husband? 

Ans: The text never lolly reveals why it is that Amanda married her husband. The most information that the audience is given comes in Scene 6, when Jim finally pays his visit to Laura, and Amanda reveals to him something about her background and the choice that she made other husband, revealing the following details to Jim and to the audience : 

But man proposes–and woman accepts the proposal ! To vary that old, old saying a little bit–I married no planter! I married a man who worked for the telephone company! That gallantly smiling gentleman over there ! 

Although no specific detail is given, it perhaps can be inferred that Amanda married her husband because she was swept off her feet and fell deeply in love with him. The first phrase, “man proposes–and woman accepts the proposal,” suggests that there was something automatic, unthinking and unquestioning about Amanda’s acceptance of her husband, and this normally only happens when somebody is deeply in love, so in love that they don’t really use reason to aid them in their decision making. Whatever the reason, the importance of the father as the “fifth character” Torn refers to that lurks in the background of the play cannot be understated. 

78. Why is Amanda so desperate to find a husband for Laura? give reasons. 

Ans: Amanda’s neurosis is due her own Part to her loneliness and her own feelings of rejection since her husband is no longer around. She also acts flirtatious when Tom brings a friend over, suggesting Amanda wishes to have her own relationship again one day, and Laura might be an impediment to this. As well, Amanda displays a tendency to be overly-focused on the lives of her children, wanting to live vicariously through them, and so her hope for Laura to find a husband means she is wishing for an additional male companion, to be an audience that satisfies her need for attention. Of course she also wants her daughter to be happy, to break out of her shell, but Amanda’s behaviour makes it difficult for Laura to entertain a suitor at home. 

79. What is the tragic flaw in the characters Amanda, Laura and Tom? 

Ans: By “tragic flow” I take it that you mean tragic flaw. So, as to the tragic flaw in each of the three characters in “The Glass Menagerie:” there is none. Tennessee Williams’ play about a poor family during the great depression is an excellent American drama, but, poignant and unhappy as it may be, it is not tragic. 

None of the characters is tragic: 

Tom is stuck in a situation he will eventually worm his way out of. He supports his mother and sister, but he’ll soon escape to join the Merchant Marine where he will seek romance and adventure. 

Laura lives in a world of her own that amounts to little glass animals and scratchy phonograph records. She is completely unable to take care of herself in any practical way, but her life of illusion is enough to keep her moderately happy. 

Amanda, the mother, lives with the fear that Tom will leave and that she will die and Laura will be alone and unable to survive. She copes with this fear by escaping into her memories of the past and by hoping against hope that some gentleman caller will sweep Laura away. This does not happen, however, and never will, and the play ends quite sadly. 

It’s all very pathetic, poetic, and poignant, but the play is not a tragedy. 

80. What are some ways in which Amanda tries to relive her past in “The Glass Menagerie”? 

Ans: 1. Amanda is always telling the story about how she entertained 17 gentleman callers one afternoon when she was a girl in Blue Mountain. 

2. During Jim’s visit, Amanda puts on a dress that she wore to the cotillion in Blue Mountain when she was a girl. 

3. Amanda tells Jim that she “had so many servants” when she was a girl.   

4. Amanda expects Laura to find “gentlemen callers” when it is clear she is emotionally incapable of doing that 

5. Just before Jim’s visit, Amanda tells Laura all about the summer she moved to Blue Mountain, gathered jonquils, and meet her husband

81. Discuss the mood created by the set and Tom’s speech in the first scene of The Glass Menagerie. 

Ans: The mood Tennessee Williams creates through the setting and Tom’s opening speech is melancholic, desperate, and tragic. The Wingfield apartment is narrowly positioned between two alleyways, and a fire-escape serves as the entrance to the tiny apartment. Williams describes the fire-escape as “a touch of accidental poetic truth,” which corresponds to the desperate situation of the Wingfield family. The dimly lit setting creates a rather sad atmosphere and illustrates that it is a memory play. The photograph of Tom’s father hanging on the wall indicates the difficult memory of loss and Tom addresses the significance of his father’s absence in his opening monologue. 

In Tom’s opening speech, he introduces the setting of the play, which takes place during the 1930s during a time of international social upheaval. The chaotic situations around the world that Tom describes mirror the turbulent feelings and emotions inside the Wingfield apartment. Tom then proceeds to explain that the play is a memory, which explains the dim stage lighting. Through the setting and Tom’s opening monologue, the audience senses the tragic, sad, and desperate mood to the play.

82. What does the moon represent in “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams?

Ans: The moon also represents mystery and Promise. It takes on a symbolic meaning that transforms it into a magical wishing star. When Amanda and Tom have their playful discussion in Scene V. 

The fact that Amanda and Tom discuss the moon in this scene, and that it is done in a very light, casual way, it allows for a pleasant moment between Amanda and her son. The reader also sees Amanda’s superstitious side when she asks her son : 

“Have you made a wish on it yet?” (Williams) 

Amanda asks her son what he wished for and he tells her that it is a secret. Then Amanda tells him that she won’t reveal her wish either, that she can be mysterious too. But she does reveal her wish : 

“No I don’t have secrets. I’ll tell you what I  wished for on the moon. Success and happiness for my precious children. I wish for that whenever there’s a moon and when there isn’t a moon, I wish for it.” (Williams)  

The exchange between Amanda and Tom in the beginning of this scene sets up the  revelation that Tom has found a gentleman caller to invite over for dinner, just as his mother asked him. 

In my view, I think that Tom is a bit sarcastic and uncaring with regard to his mother in this scene. He acts very cavalier about the whole gentleman caller thing when he knows that his mother is very serious about finding Laura a husband. 

83. In the play “The Glass Menagerie,” how is sexuality portrayed? Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie” 

Ans: In “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams, Amanda, who alludes constantly to all her “gentle-man callers,” thwarts the sexuality of her son. She conficates his copy of D. H. Lawrence’s novel, saying that she will not permit it in her house : 

That hideous book by that insane Mr. Lawrence. BUT I WON’T ALLOW SUCH FILTH BROUGHT INTO MY HOUSE ! 

Lawrence, like Tennessee Williams himself felt that sexuality was a powerful and important force in one’s life. So, the confiscation of the Lawrence novel indicates the emasculation of Tom by his mother; she treats him as though he were yet a boy. That Tom is sexually frustrated as he cannot get out much is indicated in Scene 3 when Tom becomes enraged after Amanda takes his book. 

Laura, too, is treated as a girl in Scene 6 as Amanda tends to her dress before the gentleman caller arrives. The stage directions state that 

Amanda crouches before Laura, adjusting them of a new dress, devout and ritualistic. Laura looks like a piece of translucent glass touched by light, given a momentary radiance not actual, not lasting. 

In contrast to Tom whom Amanda finds a bit perverse with D. H. Lawrence, Laura appears virginal. Iler mother stuffs her bosom with handerchiefs, calling then; “The Great Deceivers,” indicating that sex is to be used to entice and deceive men : 

All pretty girls are a trap, a pretty trap, and mer, expect them to be. 

Amanda’s use of the floor lamps gives Laura a “fragile, unearthly prettiness.” And, later stage directions are that “The holy candles in the altar of Laura’s face have been snuffed out.” The religious allusions indicate the sensitivity and innocence of Laura ‘s personality, in contrast to the potent energy of Tom an energy that he must have inherited from his wayward father. 

84. How would you describe the relationship between the mother and daughter in The Glass Menagerie. 

Ans: It is a psychologically complex relationship that exists between Amanda and her daughter Lattraw Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie. While Amanda cares for her child, she is at times rather cruel to her. A deeply flawed character because she distorts reality to fit her desires, Amanda often does not acknowledge Laura’s own will. For instance, in Seen 2, as Amanda does not have the courage to attend the DAR meeting, she instead visits the Rubicam Business College where Laura is enrolled. However, there she discovers that Laura has not been attending class. After tearing up the typing charts that are on the wall, Amanda, having stared at Laura and drawn a deep breath and dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief, asks her daughter, 

“What are we going to do, what is going to become of us, what is the future ?…I’m just bewildered—by life.” 

When Laura explains that she became so upset that she had thrown up, she attempts to declare her independence and explain that she has gone to the parks and the art museum : 

“It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I went inside places and warmed up….I visited the penguins every day !” 

Ignoring this, Amanda cruelly replies,”You did all this….just for deception?” Hurt, Laura looks down, and confesses, “I couldn’t face it.” But, Amanda critically asks of Laura, 

“So what are we going to do the rest of our lives? Stay home and watch the parades go by?…. We won’t have a business career—we’ve given that to us because it gave us nervous indigestion ! …What is there left but dependency all our lives !”

Besides Amanda’s cruelty to Laura in her disappointment, there is the element of worry for herself and her own future that enters Amanda’s lines. For, once the business college is no longer an option for Laura Amanda calculates that Laura simply needs to develop charm so that she can find a husband. In this way, both Laura and she will be cared for. 

In Scene 4, Amanda uses Laura to communicate with Tom indirectly. This tension bothers the delicate Laura. Then, in Scene 7 while ostensibly wishing for a gentleman caller for Laura, and while dressing Laura to make her look her prettiest, Amanda exploits Laura as she attempts to recreate her own youth when the caller comes. 

But, before he arrives, Amanda refreshes the apartment with covers for the furniture, new curtains and sofa pillows, and a lovely rose-colored paper lantern with a new floor lamp. When the caller does arrive, Amanda emerges in “a girlish frock of yellow voile with a blue silk sash,” a dress she had worn when gentlemen called upon her. Again, she has ignored Laura’s will and at. tempted to satisfy her own imaginings. 

In a rather turbulent relationship with her datiilltw’ Amanda wants comfort for herself, she does not acknowledge her daughter’s own will, and she selfishly refuses to see Laura for who she really is. Yet, while she is cruel and tries to manipulate her daughter so that she will be self-sufficient as well as able to financially assist her mother, Amanda does make sacrifices to her daughter. First of all, she has worked at Famous and Barr, a retail store, in order to pay for the $50.00 course that Laura has not taken. Secondly, she is willing to sacrifice and perform the drudgery of selling magazine subscriptions over the phone. 

Like Laura, Amanda lives in illusions, but she sometimes forces these illusions and aberrations and peculiarities upon her daughter. Indeed, theirs is a conflicting relationship. 

85. How is regret important to the central ideas or themes of The Glass Menagerie? 

Ans: Regret is the crippling factor that prevents the Wingfields to move forward. The reason is because they all, at one point, had a fear that they were not able to conquer. As a result, many opportunities for improving their individual, and their family lives, bypassed them all. In all, Tom, Amanda, Laura, and even Jim cannot help but continuously look into their past for cues as to what to make of their future. 

Amanda’s biggest regret, although it is not directly mentioned in the play, is that she may have played a role in her husband’s decision to abandon the family. As an abandoned woman, she now has to take care of two adult “children” who still have not found their ways in life. Amanda channels her regrets through Laura, who in turn, has regrets of her own.

In Amanda’ case, she sees her children as potential opportunities to move the family forward. If only they got jobs, maybe they all could move away from their current situation. I lowever, daughter Laura proves to be a weak link whose social anxiety and inability to accept herself as a normal person has caused her to even give up on the outside world altogether. To this, Amanda reacts. 

What is there left but dependency on all our lives ? I know so well what becomes of unmarried women who aren’t prepared to occupy a position….Is that the future that we’ve mapped out for ourselves? I swear it’s the only alternative I can think of !It isn’t a very pleasant alternative, is it? Of course – some girls do marry ! 

This expression clearly denotes Amanda’s regrets on how her actions could have possibly affected her children. Whatever those actions may have been. 

Laura’s regrets take form in her endless high school memories, particularly, in her admiration for Jim, the high school superstar. Again, the play does not use the word “regret” per se, yet, when Laura meets Jim again for the second time years later, it is clear that her biggest regret is that she never saw herself as a normal woman due to her foot condition. As a result, she never had a chance to experience what it could have been like to be someone in Jim’s life. 

It is through Tom that the topic of regret gains strength. Since Tom has not found himself yet, he regrets that he had presumably given up the things that he loves to do, such as writing and poetry, for a job that he hates. 

You think I want to spend fifty-five years down there in that – celotex interior! with – fluorescent – tubes! Look! I’d rather somebody picked up a crowbar and battered out my brains – than go back in the morning ! I go ! 

Lastly, the regret of having left the family home in the end and pursuing his own life gnaws at Tom’s conscience especially knowing that he is leaving Laura behind. He sees in Laura someone whom he should protect, yet, now he knows that regret or no regret, each individual is responsible for their own life. 

86. How is The Glass Menagerie a “coming of age” story? 

Ans: Williams’ work is not a traditional coming of age narrative. While it does involve the idea of maturation and better understanding one’s self, it does so without the traditional symmetry and unity that is a part of the coming of age narrative. If one is to accept Williams’ drama as a coming of age story, it is one in which accepting the dissonance of reality is intrinsic to maturation. 

One distinct feature of Williams’ drama as a coming of age narrative is that it is not one person who experiences the greater understanding of self. Tom, Amanda, and Laura would all be characterizations that experience this greater understanding of one’s own self. Tom recognizes that he can no longer masquerade as something he is not. He recognizes this in leaving. While he tells the story in reflection, one gets the impression that even after leaving, happiness has eluded him. Amanda is confronted with the shrieking nothingness that she has been trying to block out. To a great extent, she comes to the reality that her past is gone and she has little in the future except ruptured bonds and extinguished dreams. Laura might be the one character where something related to a positive notion in the coming of age narrative can be seen. For so long she had been seen as weak and feeble. Yet, she demonstrates a certain strength by the end of the drama. Laura comes of age in that she is able to accept the conditions in which she lives and the life she has. Her own consciousness is the best present on her birthday as she blows out the candles on her own cake, alone and away from everyone else. In these settings, perhaps there is a way to see Williams’ drama as one in which the characters experience a “coming of age” narrative. 

87. What are two examples of Amanda being an ironic character? 

Ans: She is an icon that represents the stranded, stagnant, and quite unconventional Old South. Amanda was strategically given characteristics that go hand in hand with her way of mind, and mannerisms : They conform to the dynamics of the US South and its paradigms. 

For example: Amanda is the typical Southern belle, expecting the “Gentlemen Callers”, dressing up all pompous and over-working to over-entertain for a quite casual afternoon with Jim. She also has the Southern habit of embellishing her tales, repeating old stories, and being a charmer, hence, her Southern Hospitality. 

In addition to that, she expects the same for her daughter, and is oblivious to the needs of his son, all for the sake of keeping up with the preoccupations that in another time and place would have mattered when she was younger. 

Amanda is also preoccupied with appearances, and the need to keep them. Even though Mr. Wingfield had left the family in the most miserable manner, she still managed to stay firm to the tradition and had his picture displayed huge in the living room. She also takes great pride in her pedigree, making comments about the grandiosity of her days in the South, and somehow always managing to remain there, in her mind. 

What is IRONIC about all this is that she is living in a different time and place_ where industrialism is drowning workers everywhere, where there is an economic depression going on, where her son and daughter are lost in cluelessness, and in a place where none of her actions would be considered typical in a fast-moving, dynamic city. 

Imagine how ridiculous or strange her demeanour looked in front of Jim when she was being so extremely hospitable, witty, and exceedingly charming. She was also awkwardly over-dressed, and she had pre-planned way too much for a casual meeting. Jim, an m, being a city guy, probably thought of this as the doing of an “odd old lady” and probably felt very weird in the process as well. 

88. What are two examples of Amanda being an ironic character? 

Ans: In scene two, Amanda comes home and accuses her daughter of deception. Amanda tells Laura that she had just visited the business school to inquire about her progress and discovered that she had not been attending. Amanda is not only upset about losing the fifty dollars, but she also worries about her daughter’s future. Amanda wonders what will become of Laura, who cannot work because she is too sensitive and does not have any gentlemen callers. Amanda then tells Laura, 

“I know so well what becomes of unmarried women who aren’t prepared to occupy a position. I’ve seen such pitiful cases in the South–barely tolerated spinsters living upon the grudging patronage of sister’s husband or brother’s wife!…encouraged by one in-law to visit another—little birdlike women without any nest—eating the crust of humility all their life ! Is that the future that we’ve mapped out for ourselves? I swear it’s the only alternative I can think of!” (Williams, 12). 

Ironically, Amanda is describing her exact experience without acknowledging the fact that she too is a struggling single woman. It is also ironic that Amanda criticises Laura for lacking the essential skills to attain a job and independently support herself because Amanda does not possess any prerequisite skills herself Amanda was a “barely tolerated spinster” who had to rely on her family’s support and suffered humility her entire life. However, she refuses to acknowledge that she has squandered her own opportunities to become independent and speaks about the disastrous effects of being unskilled and alone in a harsh world as if she had not personally experienced that exact situation. 

89. Analyse the concepts of strengths and weaknesses in The Glass Menagerie? 

Ans: The concepts of strength and weakness inThe Glass Menagerietreated under the scope of how each of the characters’ strengths seem to be limited by circumstances. As a result, they appear weakened and even vulnerable. However, the end will show that the ultimate choice to change, or remain the same, remains within each character. 

If we start with Tom, we see that he does have the inner will to make changes for himself. However, the setting ofThe Glass Menagerietakes place in the 1930’s where the Great Depression was hitting the very psyche of the American heart. Tom may very well represent every American who, like him, feels confined and helpless at this point. However, Tom finds his strength in things that nobody expects: writing poetry, reading Shakespeare, and getting his inspiration from movies (and alcohol, at times). Hence, Tom’s strengths are his talent for the arts, his obvious loyalty to his female family members, and his ability to stick to a job, even when he does not like it. His weakness is his incapability of making the choice to remove himself from his current circumstances. He does it at the end, showing his enormous strength of choice, but his heart still remains right where he was. 

Amanda Wingfield’s strengths are her dedication to her children, her intentions to prevail above the surface in a suffocating economy, and her tolerance for the reality of her children’s weaknesses. When she realises that Laura had dropped off typing school she feels the loss deeper than Laura, herself. 

Fifty dollars’ tuition, all of Our plans – my hopes and ambitions for you – just gone up the spout, just gone up the spout like that. 

She is a clear witness to it all, and she puts up with it even after having been abandoned by her husband. However, she does have huge weakness to holding on

to the past and not moving past a specific period during her youth. For this reason, she looks out of place and almost foolish in the eyes of others. 

Laura’s strengths are quite surprising during Jim’s visit. Contrary to what we first think, she actually engages in conversation and even drops a hint of charm! It is strong enough to cause Jim to look at her with a flirtatious eye ! 

JIM: Unicorns, aren’t they extinct in the modern world ? 

LAURA: I know ! 

JIM: Poor little fellow, he must feel sort of lone-some. 

LAURA [ smiling ]: Well, if he does he doesn’t complain about it. He stays on a shelf with some horses that don’t have horns and all of them seem to get along nicely together. 

JIM: How do you know ? 

LAURA [ lightly ]: I haven’t heard any arguments among them !

Her weakness, however, is her very low self-esteem, which makes her think of herself less than anybody else and which has given her such a complex that it has crippled her morehan the slight limp with which she walks, which she says it actually “clunks”. Even Jim said that he never heard any clunking.

Finally, Jim has many strengths such as a capability to be a high achiever, good looks, and high self esteem. However, he seems like the type of man that sets goals that are too high. This is why, even though he is a hero in high school, he does not make much of himself as an adult. He also downplays Laura’s condition as if he were seeing life with “rose colored glasses. His weakness may very well be over-confidence which, in the end, has made him into an underachiever. 

90. Explain/describe the style and themes of The Glass Menagerie. 

Ans: The style of the play is that of a memory play. This is explained in detail by Tom, who is both a character in and the narrator of The Glass Menagerie. Tom tells the audience that what they are about to see is not a direct reflection of the truth, but more of a compilation of his memory, editorialised with his emotions and prejudice. This effect is achieved through surreal and expressionist artistic decisions such as minimalist lighting and mimed stage action. 

The theme of the play is family, and the friction between self-care and dependence that occur when the head of the family leaves the responsibility on the young Tom’s shoulders. Tom’s mother and sister live in a delusional state, with his mother living in the past and his sister avoiding reality at all costs. Though Tom bears the weight or this dysfunctional family dutifully, the resentment eventually builds enough to the point that his duty is not worth fulfilling, and he abandons them. 

91. How Laura’s internal conflict affected by Jim? 

Ans: Jim affects Laura’s internal conflict in that he is the only support system whom she trusts blindly, and vet she can see clearly that he is falling apart as badly ‘’as the rest of the family is. When Jim returns drunk from the movie theatre he basically spells out his feelings towards their current situation. 

It must have been very scary for a character with a personality like Laura’s to see the head of the household, the saviour of the home, and the only man whom she can trust, her brother, lose his marbles and become slowly an alcoholic. She is aware of her mother’s incapacitation as she is less and less reliable and more and more given to the past. 

In conclusion, watching her brother fall apart is definitely adding to Laura’s already traumatised existence. 

92. How is Laura’s physical characteristics significant to her characterization? 

Ans: Laura’s physical condition is significant for a couple of reasons in relation to Laura’s character. Initially, Laura’s limp reflects a personal difference that Laura has from the rest of the world. The brace on her leg to help with the limp is something about which she feels conscious. This is significant because it shows feels fundamentally different from others in the world. She is not entirely comfortable with her difference, as her physical condition reflects this. At the same time, her body is frail, something that reminds her that the world can be overpowering to those who lack the physical ability to endure such pressure. For the most part, Laura is shown as a character at odds with the world in terms of being different from it and her physical frailness is a part of this. Laura is not someone who is immediately embraced for her physical condition and state, something that someone like Amanda will never understand. It is evident that Laura will not experience “gentlemen callers” like Amanda did because of her own physical appearance and state that make this difficult. In this, Laura’s physicality is a reflection of how she will not be fully embraced by a world that lacks understanding and a sense of inclusion within it. Williams uses Laura’s physical differences to establish how the world is not a force that seeks to include and embrace those who are different, but rather cast them on the outside to be looking in. 

93. What is Amanda Wingfield’s personality like?

Ans : Amanda is under the illusion, as many Southerners were after the Civil War, that her South- Southern heritage, entitled her and her family to a high social status. She lives in the past and exaggerates her relationships with men, all of which are defence mechanisms to avoid the reality that her husband has abandoned her. 

She loves her children, but she dotes on them entirely too much. She even calls herself a “witch” at one point. She has a hard time facing the reality that her children, mainly Toni, resent her. When the Gentleman Caller comes, she puts on a show that is repulsively ostentatious. She lives vicariously through her daughter, and is so afraid to confront Tom that she ingloriously nags about his peccadillos. 

Amanda means well, and her children are admittedly not much help, but she is an antebellum Southern Belle who is born in the wrong century. Clearly, she is out of place as a working single mother in the inner city. 

94. In What Ways is Amanda an Unlikely Heroine? 

Ans: Of the various characters in the play, Amanda Wingfield seems to inspire the least respect or sympathy. A silly woman who lives in the past and glories in her romantic memories of Blue Mountain and her days as a Southern belle, Amanda torments her grown children with her impossible expectations and nagging. She seems oblivious to Tom’s and Laura’s feelings, and she refuses to listen when they attempt to express them. For Tom and Laura, life in the Wingfields’ shabby St. Louis’ apartment is often made unbearable by the force of Amanda’s personality and her unrelenting demands. 

Despite Amanda’s silliness and overbearing behaviour, however, she should not be dismissed as the villainess of the play. There are traits in Amanda’s Character that make her more than a caricature of obstinacy and ignorance. Understanding the emotions that motivate Amanda makes it possible to see that she, too, deserves some respect and sympathy. 

The primary emotion that dictates Amanda’s behaviour is fear—fear of surviving the Depression, fear that Tom will abandon the family as his father had left them, and fear that Laura, unable to make her own way in the world, will somehow be destroyed. Amanda lives in fear, and her fear makes her “hateful” to her children. Moreover, her fears are not imaginary; Amanda denies many realities in her life, but her family’s dire situation during the Depression is a reality she faces every day. In her efforts to control Tom and Laura, Amanda is attempting to engineer the survival of her family. When reality overwhelms her, she escapes into her memories of the past. 

There is love and courage in Amanda. Unlike her husband, she did not abandon their children, and although she had been abandoned, she did not hate him; his picture hangs in the Wingfield apartment. Amanda’s concerns for Laura’s future are born of love for her daughter. She refuses to listen when Tom speaks of Laura’s fragile nature and inability to function in life because acknowledging Laura’s condition is to acknowledge the possibility that her daughter can’t be saved. Throughout the play, Amanda is cast as a woman obsessed, with the past and with impossible, ridiculous dreams of the future. In the concluding scene, however, as she is seen speaking to Iaura, Tennessee Williams portrays Amanda in a way that reveals I ie woman who lives within her : 

… her silliness is gone and she has dignity and tragic beauty …. Amanda’s gestures are slow and grace-ful. almost dancelike as she comforts the daughter …. She glances a moment at the father’s picture—then withdraws through the portieres. 

Tom is gone, and Amanda’s dreams for Laura have been crushed, but in defeat, Amanda’s ability to love prevails. 

95. Explain Laura’s dark hair hiding her face and her smile at her mother at the end of “The Glass Menagerie”. 

Ans: It’s a reaction to the ending scene in the play. Jim, while wanting to show Laura how unique and wonderful she is, hurts her when he reveals he is engaged. However, Laura, in many ways may have still been comforted, reassured, and newly confident still, as her self-belief may have changed as a result of his perception of her strength and uniqueness, like that of the unicom. All Amanda could see was the devastation of the lost opportunity that she thought was there for her daughter. Amanda’s over-reaction uproots the stability that Tom provided in the home, by forcing him to leave. Tom provided both financial stability, and was a true emotional support for Laura. Laura is left with her mother, who has just finished stating how helpless she feels her daughter to be. Laura’s hidden smile may reveal to the reader her growing sense that she is capable, and that she now knows there are people who believe in her (Jim and Tom). It may also be a smile that reveals to the reader Laura’s understanding that Amanda needs to feel like Laura cannot do anything herself because it gives purpose to Amanda’s life. If Jim married Laura, or Laura got a job, Amanda would have nothing to complain about, to nag about, to fuss about; she would be miserable. Laura in a way, knows this, and Laura also knows that she may spread her wings someday and fly away from her mother. It may be a smile of sympathy, understanding, hope, all of the above, but certainly not a smile her mother should see. 

96. How are the characters empowered through sexuality and physique? 

Ans: I don’t think The Glass Menagerie deals with either sexuality or physique in any significant way. The clearest reference to physique (which I’m interpreting as physicality) is Laura’s so-called deformity. She does aura’s  have a limp of some kind, obviously, which has  nuisance and a trial. As much as that, though, her limp is an outward manifestation of her emotional crippling. There is no empowerment there because the limp, though perhaps diminished in her mind, still exists. 

Jim, the gentleman caller, is active and energetic, and quite “alive” in a way one might call virile, so perhaps this is an aspect of physique which matters. 

The only sexuality comes between these two characters. There is a kind of awakening for Laura as a result of their kiss and their brief dance, as indicated by the unicorn which loses its horn. She has somehow, to paraphrase a line from Pinocchio, become “a real girl.” To that extent, then, sexuality as an awakening could be part of Laura’s empowerment. 

97. What are Tom’s dreams? 

Ans: Tom’s dream in The Glass Menagerie is basically to run away from the alleyway apartment and the oppression that his family has him under and be free to write poetry, read literature, and experience the adventures that he sees in the movie theatre where he goes to escape from everyday life. 

Tom is a born poet, which is a huge contrast from his rogue-type job at the factory, where darkness, and a harsh environment are the rule. Instead, Tom imagines beauty, adventure, colour, and freedom. These are his mechanisms of escapism and is meant to contrast his reality his fantasy.

98. What is Tom’s biggest struggle? 

Ans: Tom feels sympathy for his sister Laura, and wants to help her break out of her shell. He invites his friend for dinner to help achieve this. But Torn also feels a great deal of anger at his mother, and her neurotic, melodramatic behaviour, as well as her control and possessiveness, make Tom’s life unbearable. He can’t wait to leave home to break free of his mother, but leaving Laura alone would make him feel guilty, since he knows that without him Laura would sink even deeper into her loneliness. Tom struggles with a sense of responsibility for his sister, which suggests he also feels responsible for Amanda, his mother, but his anger at Amanda prevents him from realising this. 

99. What does glass menagerie stand for? 

Ans: The collection of Laura’s gala collection of mall animal figures, especially her glass unicorn, stand for the fragility of the fantasy world into which she has retreated because of her mother’s own retreat into the fantasy of her gentle Southern past, itself an exaggeration and a “collection” of distorted memories. When Tom Wingfield breaks the “horn” off of the unicorn, turning it into an ordinary horse, Williams is demonstrating how fragile a fantasy is, and how the “real” world is livable as well. Williams is saying that our own world is in  large part a fragile fantasy collection of memories.

100. Where is Laura in The Glass Menagerie? 

Ans: I’m assuming you are asking this question literally. Laura and the other characters of the play are in St. Louis, Missouri. She shares a home with her brother, Tom, and her mother, Amanda. She is extremely shy and self-conscious, and so she spends the majority of her time inside. I believe this is what you meant by the question. 

I should also note, however, that the entire play is also a memory. Knowing this, everything takes place in Tom’s mind from a certain perspective. In the final moments of the play, Tom says goodbye to his family, including Laura, but he also notes that in a sense Laura follows him wherever he goes. It is unclear what becomes of her after he leaves on his travels. 

101. What is the comparison between “Two Kinds” and The Glass Menagerie? 

Ans: “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams both explore the complex relationships between mothers and daughters. 

In each case, the mother exerts powerful control over the daughter, almost living through the young woman. In The Glass Menagerie, Amanda Wingfield is a former southern belle who is obsessed with having her pathologically shy daughter Laura entertain d gentleman caller. Her dreams to see her daughter suitably matched and comfortably settled. It was her personal dream as a young woman and it went wrong. Now she wants Laura to have some kind of skill to pursue a career and forces her to take typing classes. 

In “Two Kinds,” June’s mother desires her to become a famous child prodigy. She sacrifices to provide her with piano lessons because she wants to see her daughter become rich and famous. June’s mother believes this will help June achieve the American Dream of wealth and freedom that she never had as a young woman in war-tom mainland China. 

Neither mother considers what her daughter may want; they both believe they know entirely what is best and expect complete obedience. Both Laura and June deceive their mothers and pretend to be following instructions. Soon enough the mothers discover their daughters’ lies. . 

Laura quit typing class after one session because her nerves were too frail to take the pressure. Instead she walked in parks and wandered around the city to pretend she was going to class rather than face her mother’s disappointment and anger. 

June discovers her piano teacher is deaf and takes advantage of this by skipping lessons and practices. When she has a recital her terrible performance reveals the truth. 

But each daughter handles the revelation of her deceit differently. Laura capitulates and remains under her mother’s control; June rebels and verbally lashes out at her mother, causing a hurt that lasts years. 

102. What idea does the author develop regarding an individual’s response to human struggles? 

Ans: I think that Williams develops the idea that the individual who has strength in the midst of human struggles is representative of the most appropriate response to such conditions. Tom and Amanda initially appear to be the “strongest” people in the drama. Tom is the “man” of the house, while Amanda clearly relishes her role as the chief source of domestic power. Even Jim O’Connor, seen as successful, could be seen as someone with power. Yet, I think that Williams is making clear that each of these individuals lack the capacity to formulate an appropriate response to human struggles. Amanda seems to live in the past. Tom seems to live in dreams. Jim does not seem to be living in much of anywhere that is coherent, as he is uncertain of what he wants. The people perceived as being “powerful” seem the most ill equipped to formulate an effective individual response to human struggles. 

I think that Laura is where Williams rests power at the end of the drama. She represents an appropriate individual response to human struggles. Laura understands what it means to endure. Laura lives in the world of what is and also in what can be, through her love of animals and the glass menagerie. Yet, she does not escape from the reality that surrounds her. Her leg brace and challenges in physical health do not limit her from seeking to bring peace between her brother and her mother. She endures Amanda’s constant comparisons to herself in regards to “gentlemen callers.” She is left at the end to blow out her own birthday candles while everyone else has reacted inappropriately to human struggle. Laura can be considered to be the strop. gest character in her responses to what it means to be human. For Williams, I think that Laura becomes the basis of an appropriate response to the struggles in being human. 

103. What is Laura’s general response to people? 

Ans: Laura’s first response to almost everybody is to not engage. She immediately retreats. This retreat can be just a simple lack of eye contact or moving to be in a more oblique position to the other person. But, more often, it is a retreat to one of her primary escape zones — her glass menagerie or her victrola. They both accomplish the same goal : allowing her to disappear into another world. The only person she really doesn’t retreat from is Tom, revealing the special bond she has with her brother. She consistently retreats from her mother, often using the victrola to drown out Amanda’s challenges. When the Gentleman Caller finally arrives, her first response is to collapse, but when she is not able to retreat, the audience is treated to a little bit of her clarm. It’s lovely to watch Jim draw her out and then, it’s heartbreaking when he reveals his engagement. This leaves the audience/reader unsure as to whether or not she will ever engage again and she will permanently retreat to her escape world. 

104. What does Laura long for? 

Ans: More than anything, Laura longs for a normal life. Her shyness and self-consciousness prevent her from being social and forming friendships and relationships. Her mother’s inappropriate girlishness and flirtation ensure that she does not treat Laura as an adult or as a female peer, which means Laura has few role models to help her become a confident woman. Laura is lonely, and longs for companionship; this glass menagerie of animals is a powerful metaphor for this loneliness and Laura’s desire for relationships. 

105. Discuss how Amanda would be characterised in a “prequel” to the drama. 

Ans: I think that one could construct Amanda in a prequel through a variety of characterizations. I would think that a part of this would be depicting her as a woman that upheld the standards of traditional femininity. Her emphasis to Laura about her physical beauty, thceresence of “gentlemen callers,” and the entire notion that she creates for her children that she was the centre of all attention represents a traditionalist notion of what it meant to be a woman. I think that a part of this would be to construct her character as someone who would represent social popularity and power. Amanda is quite happy conforming to a standard where women are power brokers based on their physical appearance and the stature they gain through social recognition. I think that a prequel would explore this dynamic in her upbringing, reflecting this behaviour encouraged by her own mother in much the same way that she encourages this in Laura. At the same time, I think that a “prequel” might explore how power is seen in purely social terms and that personalised notions of identity are deferred for this social construction. This would have to be part of her upbringing as it is such a part of how she carries herself throughout Williams’ drama.

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