Tennessee Williams THE GLASS MENAGERIE
Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.
Poster for 1950 film The Glass Menagerie.
Amanda Wingfield, the mother. A little woman of great but confused vitality clinging frantically to another time and place. Her characterization must be carefully created, not copied from type. She is not paranoiac, but her life is paranoia. There is much to admire in Amanda, and as much to love and pity as there is to laugh at. Certainly she has endurance and a kind of heroism, and though her foolishness makes her unwittingly cruel at times, there is tenderness in her slight person.
Laura Wingfield, her daughter. Amanda, having failed to establish contact with reality, continues to live vitally in her illusions, but Laura’s situation is even graver. A childhood illness has left her crippled, one leg slightly shorter than the other, and held in a brace. This defect need not be more than suggested on the stage. Stemming from this, Laura’s separation increases till she is like a piece of her own glass collection, too exquisitely fragile to move from the shelf.
Tom Wingfield, her son. And the narrator of the play. A poet with a job in a warehouse. His nature is not remorseless, but to escape from a trap he has to act without pity.
Jim O’Connor, the gentleman caller. A nice, ordinary, young man.
scene. An alley in St. Louis.
part i. Preparation for a Gentleman Caller.
part ii. The Gentleman Calls.
time. Now and the Past.
Five years after The Glass Menagerie’s Broadway debut, a movie version was filmed starring Kirk Douglas, Jane Wyman, Gertrude Lawrence, and Arthur Kennedy.
The Wingfield apartment is in the rear of the building, one of those vast hive-like conglomerations of cellular living-units that flower as warty growths in overcrowded urban centers of lower middle-class population and are symptomatic of the impulse of this largest and fundamentally enslaved section of American society to avoid fluidity and differentiation and to exist and function as one interfused mass of automatism.
The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire-escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation. The fire-escape is included in the set—that is, the landing of it and steps descending from it.
The scene is memory and is therefore unrealistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart. The interior is therefore rather dim and poetic.
At the rise of the curtain, the audience is faced with the dark, grim rear wall of the Wingfield tenement. This building, which runs parallel to the footlights, is flanked on both sides by dark, narrow alleys which run into murky canyons of tangled clotheslines, garbage cans, and the sinister latticework of neighboring fire-escapes. It is up and down these side alleys that exterior entrances and exits are made, during the play. At the end of Tom’s opening commentary, the dark tenement wall slowly reveals (by means of a transparency) the interior of the ground floor Wingfield apartment.
Karen Allen and John Malkovich in a 1987 film of The Glass Menagerie, directed by Paul Newman.
Downstage is the living room, which also serves as a sleeping room for Laura, the sofa unfolding to make her bed. Upstage, center, and divided by a wide arch or second proscenium with transparent faded portieres (or second curtain), is the dining room. In an old-fashioned what-not in the living room are seen scores of transparent glass animals. A blown-up photograph of the father hangs on the wall of the living room, facing the audience, to the left of the archway. It is the face of a very handsome young man in a doughboy’s First World War cap. He is gallantly smiling, ineluctably smiling, as if to say, “I will be smiling forever.”
The audience hears and sees the opening scene in the dining room through both the transparent fourth wall of the building and the transparent gauze portieres of the dining room arch. It is during this revealing scene that the fourth wall slowly ascends, out of sight. This transparent exterior wall is not brought down again until the very end of the play, during Tom’s final speech.
The narrator is an undisguised convention of the play. He takes whatever license with dramatic convention as is convenient to his purposes.
Tom enters dressed as a merchant sailor from the alley, stage left, and strolls across the front of the stage to the fire-escape. There he stops and lights a cigarette. He addresses the audience.
Tom: Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion. To begin with, I turn back time. I reverse it to that quaint period, the thirties, when the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind. Their eyes had failed them, or they had failed their eyes, and so they were having their fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy. In Spain there was revolution. Here there was only shouting and confusion. In Spain there was Guernica. Here there were disturbances of labor, sometimes pretty violent, in otherwise peaceful cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis…. This is the social background of the play.
· The play is memory. Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic. In memory everything seems to happen to music. That explains the fiddle in the wings. I am the narrator of the play, and also a character in it. The other characters are my mother, Amanda, my sister, Laura, and a gentleman caller who appears in the final scenes. He is the most realistic character in the play, being an emissary from a world of reality that we were somehow set apart from. But since I have a poet’s weakness for symbols, I am using this character also as a symbol; he is the long delayed but always expected something that we live for. There is a fifth character in the play who doesn’t appear except in this larger-than-life photograph over the mantel. This is our father who left us a long time ago. He was a telephone man who fell in love with long distances; he gave up his job with the telephone company and skipped the light fantastic out of town…. The last we heard of him was a picture post-card from Mazatlan, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, containing a message of two words—”Hello—Good-bye!” and an address. I think the rest of the play will explain itself….
· Amanda’s voice becomes audible through the portieres.
· (Screen Legend: “Oú Sont Les Neiges.”)°
· He divides the portieres and enters the upstage area.
· Amanda and Laura are seated at a drop-leaf table. Eating is indicated by gestures without food or utensils. Amanda faces the audience. Tom and Laura are seated in profile.
· The interior has lit up softly and through the scrim we see Amanda and Laura seated at the table in the upstage area.
Amanda (calling): Tom?
Tom: Yes, Mother.
Amanda: We can’t say grace until you come to the table!
Tom: Coming, Mother. (He bows slightly and withdraws, reappearing a few moments later in his place at the table.)
Amanda (to her son): Honey, don’t push with your fingers. If you have to push with something, the thing to push with is a crust of bread. And chew—chew! Animals have sections in their stomachs which enable them to digest food without mastication, but human beings are supposed to chew their food before they swallow it down. Eat food leisurely, son, and really enjoy it. A well-cooked meal has lots of delicate flavors that have to be held in the mouth for appreciation. So chew your food and give your salivary glands a chance to function!
Tom deliberately lays his imaginary fork down and pushes his chair back from the table.
Tom: I haven’t enjoyed one bite of this dinner because of your constant directions on how to eat it. It’s you that makes me rush through meals with your hawk-like attention to every bite I take. Sickening—spoils my appetite—all this discussion of animals’ secretion—salivary glands—mastication!
Amanda (lightly): Temperament like a Metropolitan star!
· He rises and crosses downstage.
· You’re not excused from the table.
Tom: I am getting a cigarette.
Amanda: You smoke too much.
· Laura rises.
Laura: I’ll bring in the blanc mange.
· He remains standing with his cigarette by the portieres during the following.
Amanda (rising): No, sister, no, sister—you be the lady this time and I’ll be the darky.
Laura: I’m already up.
Amanda: Resume your seat, little sister—I want you to stay fresh and pretty—for gentlemen callers!
Laura (sitting down): I’m not expecting any gentlemen callers.
Amanda (crossing out to kitchenette, airily): Sometimes they come when they are least expected! Why, I remember one Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain—(Enters kitchenette.)
Tom: I know what’s coming!
Laura: Yes. But let her tell it.
Laura: She loves to tell it.
· Amanda returns with bowl of dessert.
Amanda: One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain—your mother received —seventeen!— gentlemen callers! Why, sometimes there weren’t chairs enough to accommodate them all. We had to send the nigger over to bring in folding chairs from the parish house.
Tom (remaining at portieres): How did you entertain those gentlemen callers?
Amanda: I understood the art of conversation!
Tom: I bet you could talk.
Amanda: Girls in those days knew how to talk, I can tell you.
· (Image: Amanda As A Girl On A Porch Greeting Callers.)
Amanda: They knew how to entertain their gentlemen callers. It wasn’t enough for a girl to be possessed of a pretty face and a graceful figure—although I wasn’t slighted in either respect. She also needed to have a nimble wit and a tongue to meet all occasions.
Tom: What did you talk about?
Amanda: Things of importance going on in the world! Never anything coarse or common or vulgar. (She addresses Tom as though he were seated in the vacant chair at the table though he remains by portieres. He plays this scene as though reading from a script.) My callers were gentlemen—all! Among my callers were some of the most prominent young planters of the Mississippi Delta—planters and sons of planters!
· Tom motions for music and a spot of light on Amanda. Her eyes lift, her face glows, her voice becomes rich and elegiac.
· (Screen Legend: “Oü Sont Les Neiges D’antan?”)
· There was young Champ Laughlin who later became vice-president of the Delta Planters Bank. Hadley Stevenson who was drowned in Moon Lake and left his widow one hundred and fifty thousand in Government bonds. There were the Cutrere brothers, Wesley and Bates. Bates was one of my bright particular beaux! He got in a quarrel with that wild Wainright boy. They shot it out on the floor of Moon Lake Casino. Bates was shot through the stomach. Died in the ambulance on his way to Memphis. His widow was also well-provided for, came into eight or ten thousand acres, that’s all. She married him on the rebound—never loved her—carried my picture on him the night he died! And there was that boy that every girl in the Delta had set her cap for! That beautiful, brilliant young Fitzhugh boy from Green County!
Tom: What did he leave his widow?
Amanda: He never married! Gracious, you talk as though all of my old admirers had turned up their toes to the daisies!
Tom: Isn’t this the first you mentioned that still survives?
Amanda: That Fitzhugh boy went North and made a fortune—came to be known as the Wolf of Wall Street! He had the Midas touch, whatever he touched turned to gold! And I could have been Mrs. Duncan J. Fitzhugh, mind you! But—I picked your father!
Laura (rising): Mother, let me clear the table.
Amanda: No dear, you go in front and study your typewriter chart. Or practice your shorthand a little. Stay fresh and pretty!—It’s almost time for our gentlemen callers to start arriving. (She flounces girlishly toward the kitchenette.) How many do you suppose we’re going to entertain this afternoon?
· Tom throws down the paper and jumps up with a groan.
Laura (alone in the dining room): I don’t believe we’re going to receive any, Mother.
Amanda (reappearing, airily): What? No one—not one? You must be joking! (Laura nervously echoes her laugh. She slips in a fugitive manner through the half-open portieres and draws them gently behind her. A shaft of very clear light is thrown on her face against the jaded tapestry of the curtains.) (Music: “The Glass Menagerie” Under Faintly.) (Lightly.) Not one gentleman caller? It can’t be true! There must be a flood, there must have been a tornado!
Laura: It isn’t a flood, it’s not a tornado, Mother. I’m just not popular like you were in Blue Mountain…. (Tom utters another groan. Laura glances at him with a faint, apologetic smile. Her voice catching a little.) Mother’s afraid I’m going to be an old maid.
(The Scene Dims Out With “Glass Menagerie” Music.)
Tennessee Williams: The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (with production notes). Copyright © 1945, renewed 1973 The University of the South. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc. for the Estate of Tennessee Williams.
“Laura, Haven’t You Ever Liked Some Boy?”
On the dark stage the screen is lighted with the image of blue roses.
Gradually Laura’s figure becomes apparent and the screen goes out.
The music subsides.
Laura is seated in the delicate ivory chair at the small clawfoot table.
She wears a dress of soft violet material for a kimono—her hair tied back from her forehead with a ribbon.
She is washing and polishing her collection of glass.
Amanda appears on the fire-escape steps. At the sound of her ascent, Laura catches her breath, thrusts the bowl of ornaments away and seats herself stiffly before the diagram of the typewriter keyboard as though it held her spellbound. Something has happened to Amanda. It is written in her face as she climbs to the landing: a look that is grim and hopeless and a little absurd.
She has on one of those cheap or imitation velvety-looking cloth coats with imitation fur collar. Her hat is five or six years old, one of those dreadful cloche hats that were worn in the late twenties, and she is clasping an enormous black patent-leather pocketbook with nickel clasp and initials. This is her full-dress outfit, the one she usually wears to the D.A.R.
Before entering she looks through the door.
She purses her lips, opens her eyes wide, rolls them upward and shakes her head.
Then she slowly lets herself in the door. Seeing her mother’s expression Laura touches her lips with a nervous gesture.
Laura: Hello, Mother, I was—(She makes a nervous gesture toward the chart on the wall. Amanda leans against the shut door and stares at Laura with a martyred look.)
Amanda: Deception? Deception? (She slowly removes her hat and gloves, continuing the sweet suffering stare. She lets the hat and gloves fall on the floor—a bit of acting.)
Laura (shakily): How was the D.A.R. meeting? (Amanda slowly opens her purse and removes a dainty white handkerchief which she shakes out delicately and delicately touches to her lips and nostrils.) Didn’t you go to the D.A.R. meeting, Mother?
Amanda (faintly, almost inaudibly):—No.—No. (Then more forcibly.) I did not have the strength—to go to the D.A.R. In fact, I did not have the courage! I wanted to find a hole in the ground and hide myself in it forever! (She crosses slowly to the wall and removes the diagram of the typewriter keyboard. She holds it in front of her for a second, staring at it sweetly and sorrowfully—then bites her lips and tears it in two pieces.)
Laura (faintly): Why did you do that, Mother? (Amanda repeats the same procedure with the chart of the Gregg Alphabet.) Why are you—
Amanda: Why? Why? How old are you, Laura?
Laura: Mother, you know my age.
Amanda: I thought that you were an adult; it seems that I was mistaken. (She crosses slowly to the sofa and sinks down and stares at Laura.)
Laura: Please don’t stare at me, Mother.
· Amanda closes her eyes and lowers her head. Count ten.
Amanda: What are we going to do, what is going to become of us, what is the future? Count ten.
Laura: Has something happened, Mother? (Amanda draws a long breath and takes out the handkerchief again. Dabbing process.) Mother, has—something happened?
Amanda: I’ll be all right in a minute. I’m just bewildered—(count five)—by life …
Laura: Mother, I wish that you would tell me what’s happened.
Amanda: As you know, I was supposed to be inducted into my office at the D.A.R. this afternoon. (Image: A Swarm of Typewriters.) But I stopped off at Rubicam’s Business College to speak to your teachers about your having a cold and ask them what progress they thought you were making down there.
Laura: Oh …
Amanda: I went to the typing instructor and introduced myself as your mother. She didn’t know who you were. “Wingfield,” she said, “We don’t have any such student enrolled at the school!” I assured her she did, that you had been going to classes since early in January. “I wonder,” she said, “if you could be talking about that terribly shy little girl who dropped out of school after only a few days’ attendance?” “No,” I said, “Laura, my daughter, has been going to school every day for the past six weeks!” “Excuse me,” she said. She took the attendance book out and there was your name, unmistakably printed, and all the dates you were absent until they decided that you had dropped out of school. I still said, “No, there must have been some mistake! There must have been some mix-up in the records!” And she said, “No—I remember her perfectly now. Her hand shook so that she couldn’t hit the right keys! The first time we gave a speed-test, she broke down completely—was sick at the stomach and almost had to be carried into the wash-room! After that morning she never showed up any more. We phoned the house but never got any answer”—While I was working at Famous-Barr, I suppose, demonstrating those—(She indicates a brassiere with her hands.) Oh! I felt so weak I could barely keep on my feet. I had to sit down while they got me a glass of water! 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. (Laura draws a long breath and gets awkwardly to her feet. She crosses to the victrola and winds it up.) What are you doing?
Laura: Oh! (She releases the handle and returns to her seat.)
Amanda learns some surprising news from her daughter.
Amanda: Laura, where have you been going when you’ve gone out pretending that you were going to business college?
Laura: I’ve just been going out walking.
Amanda: That’s not true.
Laura: It is. I just went walking.
Amanda: Walking? Walking? In winter? Deliberately courting pneumonia in that light coat? Where did you walk to, Laura?
Laura: All sorts of places—mostly in the park.
Amanda: Even after you’d started catching that cold?
Laura: It was the lesser of two evils, Mother. (Image: Winter Scene In Park.) I couldn’t go back there. I—threw up—on the floor! Amanda: From half past seven till after five every day you mean to tell me you walked around in the park, because you wanted to make me think that you were still going to Rubicam’s Business College?
Laura: It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I went inside places to get warmed up.
Amanda: Inside where?
Laura: I went in the art museum and the bird-houses at the Zoo. I visited the penguins every day! Sometimes I did without lunch and went to the movies. Lately I’ve been spending most of my afternoons in the Jewel-box, that big glass house where they raise the tropical flowers.
Amanda: You did all this to deceive me, just for deception? (Laura looks down.) Why?
Laura: Mother, when you’re disappointed, you get that awful suffering look on your face, like the picture of Jesus’ mother in the museum!
Laura: I couldn’t face it.
· Pause. A whisper of strings.
· (Legend: “The Crust Of Humility.”)
Amanda (hopelessly fingering the huge pocketbook): So what are we going to do the rest of our lives? Stay home and watch the parades go by? Amuse ourselves with the glass menagerie, darling? Eternally play those worn-out phonograph records your father left as a painful reminder of him? We won’t have a business career—we’ve given that up because it gave us nervous indigestion! (Laughs wearily.) What is there left but dependency all our lives? 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!—stuck away in some little mouse-trap of a room—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! It isn’t a very pleasant alternative, is it? Of course—some girls do marry. (Laura twists her hands nervously.) Haven’t you ever liked some boy?
Laura: Yes. I liked one once. (Rises.) I came across his picture a while ago.
Amanda (with some interest): He gave you his picture?
Laura: No, it’s in the year-book.
Amanda (disappointed): Oh—a high-school boy.
· (Screen Image: Jim As A High-School Hero Bearing A Silver Cup.)
Laura: Yes. His name was Jim. (Laura lifts the heavy annual from the clawfoot table.) Here he is in The Pirates of Penzance.
Amanda (absently): The what?
Laura: The operetta the senior class put on. He had a wonderful voice and we sat across the aisle from each other Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the Aud. Here he is with the silver cup for debating! See his grin?
Amanda (absently): He must have had a jolly disposition.
Laura: He used to call me—Blue Roses.
· (Image: Blue Roses.)
Amanda: Why did he call you such a name as that?
Laura: When I had that attack of pleurosis—he asked me what was the matter when I came back. I said pleurosis—he thought that I said Blue Roses! So that’s what he always called me after that. Whenever he saw me, he’d holler, “Hello, Blue Roses!” I didn’t care for the girl he went out with. Emily Meisenbach. Emily was the best-dressed girl at Soldán. She never struck me, though, as being sincere … It says in the Personal Section—they’re engaged. That’s—six years ago! They must be married by now.
Amanda: Girls that aren’t cut out for business careers usually wind up married to some nice man. (Gets up with a spark of revival.) Sister, that’s what you’ll do!
Laura utters a startled, doubtful laugh. She reaches quickly for a piece of glass.
Laura: But, Mother—
Amanda: Yes? (Crossing to photograph.)
Laura (in a tone of frightened apology): I’m—crippled!
· (Image: Screen.)
Amanda: Nonsense! Laura, I’ve told you never, never to use that word. Why, you’re not crippled, you just have a little defect—hardly noticeable, even! When people have some slight disadvantage like that, they cultivate other things to make up for it—develop charm—and vivacity—and—charm! That’s all you have to do! (She turns again to the photograph.) One thing your father had plenty of— was charm!
· Tom motions to the fiddle in the wings.
· (The Scene Fades Out With Music.)
· (Legend On The Screen: “After The Fiasco—”)
· Tom speaks from the fire-escape landing.
Tom: After the fiasco at Rubicam’s Business College, the idea of getting a gentleman caller for Laura began to play a more important part in Mother’s calculations. It became an obsession. Like some archetype of the universal unconscious, the image of the gentleman caller haunted our small apartment…. (Image: Young Man At Door With Flowers.) An evening at home rarely passed without some allusion to this image, this specter, this hope…. Even when he wasn’t mentioned, his presence hung in Mother’s preoccupied look and in my sister’s frightened, apologetic manner—hung like a sentence passed upon the Wingfields! Mother was a woman of action as well as words. She began to take logical steps in the planned direction. Late that winter and in the early spring—realizing that extra money would be needed to properly feather the nest and plume the bird—she conducted a vigorous campaign on the telephone, roping in subscribers to one of those magazines for matrons called The Home-maker’s Companion, the type of journal that features the serialized sublimations of ladies of letters who think in terms of delicate cup-like breasts, slim, tapering waists, rich, creamy thighs, eyes like wood-smoke in autumn, fingers that soothe and caress like strains of music, bodies as powerful as Etruscan sculpture.
· (Screen Image: Glamor Magazine Cover.)
· Amanda enters with phone on long extension cord. She is spotted in the dim stage.
Amanda: Ida Scott? This is Amanda Wingfield! We missed you at the D.A.R. last Monday! I said to myself: She’s probably suffering with that sinus condition! How is that sinus condition? Horrors! Heaven have mercy!—You’re a Christian martyr, yes, that’s what you are, a Christian martyr! Well, I just now happened to notice that your subscription to the Companion’s about to expire! Yes, it expires with the next issue, honey!—just when that wonderful new serial by Bessie Mae Hopper is getting off to such an exciting start. Oh, honey, it’s something that you can’t miss! You remember how Gone With the Wind took everybody by storm? You simply couldn’t go out if you hadn’t read it. All everybody talked was Scarlett O’Hara. Well, this is a book that critics already compare to Gone With the Wind. It’s the Gone With the Wind of the post-World War generation!—What?—Burning?—Oh, honey, don’t let them burn, go take a look in the oven and I’ll hold the wire! Heavens—I think she’s hung up!
· (Dim Out.)
· (Legend On Screen: “You Think I’m In Love With Continental Shoemakers?”)
· Before the stage is lighted, the violent voices of Tom and Amanda are heard. They are quarreling behind the portieres. In front of them stands Laura with clenched hands and panicky expression.
· A clear pool of light on her figure throughout this scene.
Tom: What in Christ’s name am I—
Amanda (shrilly): Don’t you use that—
Tom:—supposed to do!
Amanda:—expression! Not in my—
Amanda:—presence! Have you gone out of your senses?
Tom: I have, that’s true, driven out!
Amanda: What is the matter with you, you—big—big—idiot!
Tom: Look—I’ve got no thing, no single thing—
Amanda: Lower your voice!
Tom:—in my life here that I can call my own! Everything is—
Amanda: Stop that shouting!
Tom: Yesterday you confiscated my books! You had the nerve to—
Amanda: I took that horrible novel back to the library—yes! That hideous book by that insane Mr. Lawrence. (Tom laughs wildly.) I cannot control the output of diseased minds or people who cater to them—(Tom laughs still more wildly.) but i won’t allow such filth brought into my house! No, no, no, no, no!
Tom: House, house! Who pays rent on it, who makes a slave of himself to—
Amanda (fairly screeching): Don’t you DARE to—
Tom: No, no, I mustn’t say things! I’ve got to just—
Amanda: Let me tell you—
Tom: I don’t want to hear any more! (He tears the portieres open. The upstage area is lit with a turgid smoky red glow.)
· Amanda’s hair is in metal curlers and she wears a very old bathrobe, much too large for her slight figure, a relic of the faithless Mr. Wingfield.
· An upright typewriter and a wild disarray of manuscripts are on the drop-leaf table. The quarrel was probably precipitated by Amanda’s interruption of his creative labor. A chair lying overthrown on the floor.
· Their gesticulating shadows are cast on the ceiling by the fiery glow.
Amanda: You will hear more, you—
Tom: No, I won’t hear more, I’m going out!
Amanda: You come right back in—
Tom: Out, out out! Because I’m—
Amanda: Come back here, Tom Wingfield! I’m not through talking to you!
Tom: Oh, go—
Laura (desperately): Tom!
Amanda: You’re going to listen, and no more insolence from you! I’m at the end of my patience! (He comes back toward her.)
Tom: What do you think I’m at? Aren’t I supposed to have any patience to reach the end of, Mother? I know, I know. It seems unimportant to you, what I’m doing—what I want to do—having a little difference between them! You don’t think that—
Amanda: I think you’ve been doing things that you’re ashamed of. That’s why you act like this. I don’t believe that you go every night to the movies. Nobody goes to the movies night after night. Nobody in their right minds goes to the movies as often as you pretend to. People don’t go to the movies at nearly midnight, and movies don’t let out at two a.m. Come in stumbling. Muttering to yourself like a maniac! You get three hours’ sleep and then go to work. Oh, I can picture the way you’re doing down there. Moping, doping, because you’re in no condition.
Tom (wildly): No, I’m in no condition!
Amanda: What right have you got to jeopardize your job? Jeopardize the security of us all? How do you think we’d manage if you were—
Tom: Listen! You think I’m crazy about the warehouse? (He bends fiercely toward her slight figure.) You think I’m in love with the Continental Shoemakers? You think I want to spend fifty-five years down there in that—celotex interior! with—fluorescent—tubesl Look! I’d rather somebody picked up a crowbar and battered out my brains—than go back mornings! I go! Every time you come in yelling that God-damn “Rise and Shine!” “Rise and Shine!” I say to myself “How lucky dead people are!” But I get up. I go\ For sixty-five dollars a month I give up all that I dream of doing and being ever! And you say self—self’s all I ever think of. Why, listen, if self is what I thought of, Mother, I’d be where he is—gone! (Pointing to father’s picture.) As far as the system of transportation reaches! (He starts past her. She grabs his arm.) Don’t grab at me, Mother!
Amanda: Where are you going?
Tom: I’m going to the movies!
Amanda: I don’t believe that lie!
Tom (crouching toward her, overtowering her tiny figure. She backs away, gasping): I’m going to opium dens! Yes, opium dens, dens of vice and criminals’ hangouts, Mother. I’ve joined the Hogan gang, I’m a hired assassin, I carry a tommy-gun in a violin case! I run a string of cat-houses in the Valley! They call me Killer, Killer Wingfield, I’m leading a double-life, a simple, honest warehouse worker by day, by night a dynamic czar of the underworld, Mother. I go to gambling casinos, I spin away fortunes on the roulette table! I wear a patch over one eye and a false mustache, sometimes I put on green whiskers. On those occasions they call me—El Diablo! Oh, I could tell you things to make you sleepless! My enemies plan to dynamite this place. They’re going to blow us all sky-high some night! I’ll be glad, very happy, and so will you! You’ll go up, up on a broomstick, over Blue Mountain with seventeen gentlemen callers! You ugly—babbling old—witch…. (He goes through a series of violent, clumsy movements, seizing his overcoat, lunging to the door, pulling it fiercely open. The women watch him, aghast. His arm catches in the sleeve of the coat as he struggles to pull it on. For a moment he is pinioned by the bulky garment. With an outraged groan he tears the coat off again, splitting the shoulders of it, and hurls it across the room. It strikes against the shelf of Laura’s glass collection, there is a tinkle of shattering glass. Laura cries out as if wounded.)
· (Music Legend: “The Glass Menagerie.”)
Laura (shrilly): My glass!— menagerie…. (She covers her face and turns away.)
· But Amanda is still stunned and stupefied by the “ugly witch” so that she barely notices this occurrence. Now she recovers her speech.
Amanda (in an awful voice): I won’t speak to you—until you apologize! (She crosses through portieres and draws them together behind her. Tom is left with Laura. Laura clings weakly to the mantel with her face averted. Tom stares at her stupidly for a moment. Then he crosses to shelf. Drops awkwardly to his knees to collect the fallen glass, glancing at Laura as if he would speak but couldn’t.)
· (“The Glass Menagerie” Music Steals In As The Scene Dims Out.)