Summary and Analysis
Later that same evening, Blanche and Mitch are returning rather late from a date. They are discussing the failure of the evening. Blanche takes the blame for the failure because she feels that it is the lady's duty to "entertain the gentleman." After Blanche tells Mitch that she must soon pack her trunks, he asks her permission to kiss her goodnight. Blanche tells him he should not have to ask, but warns him that he is to go no further because a single girl has to be so careful.
Stanley and Stella are not at home and Blanche asks Mitch to come in for a nightcap. While Blanche is looking for some whiskey, she lights a candle and says in French that she is the lady of the camellias. When Mitch says he does not understand French, Blanche asks him in French if he would like to sleep with her and then says in English that it's a damned good thing that he doesn't understand French. She asks him to take off his coat, but he is ashamed of the way he sweats. He tells her how heavy he is and how easily he sweats, but Blanche maintains that he is just a good healthy man.
Mitch asks where Stella and Stanley are. He then suggests that the four of them should go out together sometime; Blanche explains how much Stanley hates her and wonders if he has told Mitch anything. Mitch pretends that he hasn't, but Blanche feels uneasy. She explains how rude and common he is to her and that as soon as Stella has the baby, she is going to leave. Blanche is convinced that Stanley hates her, and that "that man will destroy me."
Mitch suddenly asks Blanche how old she is. Blanche wonders why, and Mitch tells her that he has talked about her to his mother. Blanche wonders if Mitch won't be very lonely when he loses his mother. She explains that she knows what loneliness is because she once lost a person she loved. He was just a boy when they married, and he had a softness and tenderness which she did not fully understand. Then she found out that the boy she had married was also having an affair with an older man. She found out by coming into the room where they were. Pretending nothing had happened, the three of them went to a dance, where suddenly Blanche told her young husband that he disgusted her. He ran from her and immediately shot himself. Since that time, there has been no light in her life stronger than the kitchen candle.
Mitch responds that she needs somebody and that he does too. Thus as the polka tune which has been playing in Blanche's mind during her narration stops, she and Mitch embrace.
This scene presents the hope, the sense of salvation for Blanche. It follows the tradition of classical tragedy in the way that a classical tragedy always allows for the possibility of redemption sometime in the middle of the play. Blanche's hope lies with her capturing Mitch, and it will later be Stanley's revelation about Blanche's past to Mitch which finally destroys all of Blanche's hopes. But here in this scene, it seems as though Blanche may succeed in freeing herself from her trapped situation.
An important question is, which is the real Blanche? Is she the innocent, naive girl that she presents to Mitch or is she the depraved woman whose past Stanley uncovers and reveals? Actually, she would like to be the girl she is presenting to Mitch. Ideally, she pictures herself as this girl. Even though this is a pose for her, she feels that it is the pose that she, as the southern belle, must take. Like Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, she feels it is her duty to entertain the man and to make the man feel welcomed.
When Mitch discusses his excessive weight, his sweating, and his clumsiness, we must see Mitch as a rough sort of man. He is no diamond in the raw. In other words, he is Blanche's last chance. He is the last straw which she is grasping for so as to keep from drowning.
This scene also shows that Blanche realizes Stanley is her "executioner." "That man will destroy me, unless" — the "unless" refers to her hope of marrying Mitch. But here she recognizes that Stanley is deliberately trying to destroy her, and she can't do much about it.
In Blanche's narration of her tragic marriage with the young Allan, we see the source of all the rest of her difficulties. Here was the man whom she loved "unendurable" but whom she was unable to help. Her love came like a "blinding light" and after his death, she has never had a light "that's stronger than this — kitchen — candle!" Thus, Blanche's aversion to lights, seen in earlier parts of the play relates both to her attempt to disguise her age, and more important to the images connected with her young husband.
We now find out why the Varsouviana music has been playing as background music. This was the song which played while Blanche and her young husband were dancing, and the same song, running through her mind is interrupted by the sound of her husband's gunshot. So now when Blanche hears the music, she must drink until she hears the gunshot which signals the end of the song.
Centrally, this scene reveals both Blanche and Mitch to be very lonesome people who could possibly find happiness with each other. Each could fill some type of vacancy for the other. Thus the scene ends on a note of hope for both characters.