Summary and Analysis
Later that night Mitch, Stanley's friend, wants to drop out of the poker game because his mother is sick. Stella and Blanche return from the show, and Blanche is introduced to the other players. When Stanley tells the ladies to disappear until the game is finished, Stella reminds him that it is 2:30 A.M. and time to quit. Stanley swats her rear and the sisters go into the other room, where Blanche meets Harold Mitchell coming from the bathroom. When he leaves, Blanche thinks that he looks more sensitive than the others and is told that Mitch's mother is very sick. Blanche begins to undress until Stella reminds her that she is in the light. The sisters begin to laugh, and Stanley yells to them to be quiet.
When Stella goes to the bathroom, Blanche moves back into the light and continues to undress as she listens to rumba music over the radio. Stanley calls for her to turn the radio off. Mitch excuses himself again and goes into the other room, where he meets Blanche again. She asks him for a cigarette, and he shows her his cigarette case with an inscription on it. Blanche recognizes the inscription and Mitch is pleased and explains that there is a story connected with the case. It was given to him by a girl who was dying and knew it when she gave him the present. Blanche explains that people who suffer are often more sensitive and sincere than the average person. Blanche asks Mitch to cover the light bulb with a paper lantern because she can't "stand a naked light bulb, any more than a rude remark or a vulgar action." After more conversation, Blanche explains how she tried to teach English and an appreciation for literature to youngsters who were not interested in it. As Stella comes out of the bathroom, Blanche turns on the radio and begins a little waltz, and Mitch clumsily tries to follow when suddenly Stanley charges into the room and throws the radio out the window. Stella screams at him and tells everyone to go home. Stanley becomes enraged and hits Stella. The men pin Stanley down while the women leave. They force him under the shower and then leave.
Stanley emerges and calls Eunice and asks to speak to Stella. He threatens to keep on calling until he talks with Stella. Then he goes outside and bellows for her. Eunice comes out and tells him to be quiet because Stella is not coming down. He continues to yell for her, and Stella emerges from the apartment and comes slowly to him. He falls to his knees and presses her against him. He then carries her back into the apartment. Blanche comes looking for Stella. She sees Mitch who explains that Stella went back to him. Mitch assures her that all is fine now. Blanche looks at him and thanks him for being so kind.
Note that the scene is set against a pretty wild poker game. Stanley is especially out of patience because he has been losing heavily. And we see Mitch immediately as a contrast to the others, especially with his concern for his sick mother.
Blanche is immediately aware of Mitch's difference. Her own sensitivity allows her to recognize it in others. This is a quality that Stanley does not possess.
Blanche intentionally moves into the light when she is undressing so as to be noticed. This is a manifestation of Blanche's desire to be the center of attention, and her use of her body to attract attention prepares us for some of her later lurid escapades.
Notice that Blanche's and Mitch's pasts curiously correspond since both have lost a loved person. This is just one of many aspects that will draw them together.
Again the light motif is here developed. Blanche asks Mitch to cover the naked light bulb. Ironically, it will be he who will later tear off the paper lantern in order to "get a better look" at Blanche.
The reader should be aware of Blanche's almost pathological need to lie. She lies to Mitch about her reason for visiting Stella and about her age. But as Blanche will later say, these are only little illusions that a woman must create.
This is the third confrontation between Blanche and Stanley. Here Blanche is the witness to the animal brutality and the coarse behavior of Stanley. The violence that he perpetrates is totally alien to Blanche's understanding. But more amazing to Blanche is the fact that Stella returns to Stanley after the fight is over.
In Stella's return to Stanley when he calls for her, we see the basis on which their marriage is built. In earlier scenes it was intimated that there could be no similar traits between them. Here it becomes apparent that the basic attraction is one of pure physical sexual attractions as they "come together with low, animal moans."
What is often overlooked in this scene is the basic cause of this scene. To project, one must ask himself, would this outburst have occurred if Blanche had not been visiting there. It is apparent that Blanche's presence was the principal cause of the violence. And later it will be developed that Stanley feels her presence is an actual threat to his marriage.
The attraction between Mitch and Blanche contrasts aptly to the bestial attraction between Stanley and Stella. The sensitivity and the quietness of Blanche and Mitch emphasize the delicate basis of their relationship.