The Glass Menagerie By Tennessee Williams Summary and Analysis Scene 2

Summary

Laura is sitting alone playing with her glass collection. When she hears Amanda ascending the stairs, she immediately hides the collection and sits before the typing chart pretending to study it. Amanda comes in and theatrically drops her gloves on the floor. When Laura asks her what is wrong, Amanda accuses her of deception. Amanda tells Laura that she was by the business school in order to inquire about Laura's progress. It was then that she found out that Laura had not been attending school. Amanda is depressed about losing the fifty dollars tuition and about Laura's future. Laura explains that on the day she was supposed to take her first speed test in typing, she became sick and threw up on the floor. Since then she has been pretending to go to school, but instead she has been going to the museums and to the bird houses in the zoo and to a big glass house where they "raise the tropical flowers."

Amanda wonders what will then happen to a girl who can't work and who has no gentlemen callers. She then wonders if Laura has ever liked a boy. Laura tells about a boy in high school named Jim with whom she was infatuated. He used to call her "blue roses" because she had had pleurosis, which he thought sounded like "blue roses." Amanda then decides that Laura must get married. Laura protests that she is a cripple, but Amanda refuses to allow Laura to use that word and insists that all Laura needs to do is to develop charm.

Analysis

In the first episode, Amanda had told Laura to go practice her shorthand. At the opening of this scene, we see that Laura rapidly hides her glass ornaments and acts as though she is practicing her typing when she hears Amanda ascending the fire escape. This scene, then, handles the revelation that Laura has not been going to her school.

This revelation has tremendous import for Amanda. First, it represents a fifty-dollar loss of the tuition money — money which was very hard to come by. But more important, it forces Amanda to consider the future and to face, realistically, problems that she does not like to think about — that is, that she has a daughter who is crippled and who is too sensitive to work. These thoughts, in turn, bring to Amanda's mind the need for a gentleman caller.

Thus we see a relationship between the gentleman caller and Laura's ineptitude in any type of work. Amanda sums up Laura's position by saying: "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." Of course what Amanda did not say was that her knowledge is first hand because she became one of those pitiful cases who was not prepared to occupy a position. Thus with Laura's inability to occupy a position, it becomes urgent to find her a husband so that she doesn't become one of those pitiful creatures.

Note how Amanda plays the revelation scene for all its theatrical effect. This is also a part of her character and prepares us for her giddy actions when the gentleman caller comes.

This scene also prepares us for the coming of Jim, the gentleman caller, because he was a high school friend of both Tom and Laura. With it now established that he was Laura's high school idol, we are more prepared to accept her nervousness when he arrives.

Even though a few minutes earlier Amanda was able to face reality enough to discuss what happens to unmarried women, now with the thought of a gentleman caller coming, she suddenly resorts back to a world of illusion and refuses to allow Laura to refer to herself as crippled. She then tells Laura to develop charm to compensate for her slight defect. For Laura to develop charm is totally impossible, and furthermore, the type of charm that Amanda means would destroy what innocent appeal Laura now possesses.

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