The Mother - a woman “of great but confused vitality” whose husband left her with two children to raise.Amanda clingsto another time and place.
The Daughter –a girl afraid to leave the family’sapartment. She collects glass animal figurines, the menagerie of the play’stitle.
The Son & Narrator –Tom wants to be a poet butmust work in a warehouse to support the family.
The Gentlemen Caller –A young man who works with Tom. “Jim is imbued with the American spirit of self-improvement.”
“The play is memory.”
The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie
begins as Tom Wingfield introduces himself and the text as a play told from his memory. He presents its participants, and becomes both the narrator of the story and a main character in the action. Tom is the sole breadwinner for the Wingfield family; his father deserted the family sixteen years earlier. Tom’s mother, Amanda, was left alone to raise him and his impaired sister Laura. Tom joins the action of the play and his mother and sister at dinner. Over the course of the evening, Amanda learns thatLaura, afraid of confronting her mother, has been deceiving her and “wasting precious money.” Instead of attending Rubicam's Business College as expected, Laura has been taking walks in the park and visiting museums to avoid school, andthe nervous indigestion it gives her. Fraught with frustration, Amanda decides the only course for Laura is to get married. Amanda asks her if there is any boy in particular in which she has interest, and Laura reveals that she used to have a crushon Jim O'Connor, the high school hero; but she does not know what has happened to him.Later that evening, after an argument between Amanda and Tom, Amanda seizes the opportunity and moment alone to ask Tom to bring home some male friends to meet Laura. Tom promises to try his best. A few days later, Tom tells Amanda that a colleague of his, Jim O'Connor, is coming over the next evening for dinner. Amanda is delighted; she makes frenzied, elaborate preparations, and attends to every detail of Laura's appearance. WhenLaura learns that the guest is Jim O'Connor, she tells her mother that she will not be able to face him. She is so nervousabout the young man's arrival that she becomes sick; she begs to be excused before Jim arrives. Amanda, however, will standno refusals and forces Laura to answer the door when the guest arrives. Laura's debilitating fear becomes so intense that sheis unable to join the others for dinner.
After dinner, Amanda asks Tom to help her wash the dishes and sends Jim to the living room to be with Laura. Under Jim’s warm and charismatic influence, Laura overcomes her nerves and the two enjoy each other’s company and conversation. There is a mutual attraction and Jim kisses Laura. Whereupon, Jim quickly reveals that he is engaged to be married andapologizes for his hasty actions. When Amanda reenters the scene, Jim discloses his engagement to her, as well. Amandarashly blames Tom for playing a cruel joke on them by bringing over an engaged man. Tom defends himself, saying that hehad no idea that Jim was engaged. At the end of the play, Tom takes on the role of narrator again. He has left home to become a sailor and pursue his dreamsof adventure. He wrestles with the guilt of deserting his mother and sister, not unlike his father had done previously.Unable to forgive himself,
is Tom’s reckoning with his decision and it’s emotional and psychologicalrepercussions.