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"The Glass Menagerie" Character / Plot Summary (Part Two)

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During dinner, Laura – faint with shyness and anxiety – spends most of the time on the sofa, away from the others. Amanda, however, is having a wonderful time. The lights suddenly go out, but Tom never confesses the reason!

 

By candlelight Jim gently approaches the timid Laura. Gradually, she begins to open up to him. He is delighted to learn that they went to school together. He even remembers the nickname he gave to her: “Blue Roses.”

 

Jim: Now I remember – you always came in late.

 

Laura: Yes, it was so hard for me, getting upstairs. I had that brace on my leg – it clumped so loud!

Jim: I never heard any clumping.

Laura (wincing at the recollection): To me it sounded like thunder!

Jim: Well, well, well. I never even noticed.

 

Jim encourages her to be more self-confident. He even dances with her. Unfortunately, he bumps a table, knocking over a glass unicorn figurine. The horn breaks, making the figurine just like the rest of the horses. Surprisingly, Laura is able to laugh about the situation. She clearly likes Jim. Finally, he declares:

 

Somebody needs to build your confidence up and make you proud instead of shy and turning away and—blushing—Somebody ought to—ought to—kiss you, Laura!

 

They kiss.

For a moment, the audience might be lured into thinking that everything will work out happily. For a moment, we can imagine:

 

  • Jim and Laura falling in love.
  • Amanda’s dreams for Laura’s security coming true.
  • Tom finally escaping the “trap” of family obligations.

 

Yet, a moment after the kiss, Jim backs away and decides, “I shouldn’t have done that.” He then reveals that he is engaged to a nice girl named Betty. When he explains that he will not be back to visit again, Laura bravely smiles. She offers him the broken figurine as a souvenir.

After Jim leaves, Amanda scolds her son for bringing an already-spoken-for gentleman caller. As they fight, Tom exclaims:

 

Tom: The more you shout about my selfishness to me the quicker I’ll go, and I won’t go to the movies!

 

Then, Tom assumes the role of the narrator as he did in the play’s beginning. He explains to the audience how he soon left his family behind, running away just as his father did. He spent years traveling abroad, yet something still haunted him. He escaped the Wingfield household, but his dear sister Laura was always on his mind.

The final lines:

 

Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be! I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger—anything that can blow your candles out! For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura – and so good-bye…

 

 

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