October 29, 2005

Glass Menagerie 2

Williams, The Glass Menagerie (Finish) -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)


TOM: And so the following evening I brought Jim home to dinner. I had known Jim slightly in high school. In high school Jim was a hero. He had tremendous Irish good nature and vitality with the scrubbed and polished look of white chinaware. He seemed to move in a continual spotlight. He was a star in basket-ball, captain of the debating club, president of the senior class and the glee club and he sang the male lead in the annual light operas. He was always running or bounding, never just walking. He seemed always at the point of defeating the law of gravity. He was shooting with such velocity through his adolescence that you would logically expect him to arrive at nothing short of the White House by the time he was thirty. But Jim apparently ran into more interference after his graduation from Soldan. His speed had definitely slowed. Six years after he left high school he was holding a job that wasn't much better than mine.


He was the only one at the warehouse with whom I was on friendly terms. I was valuable to him as someone who could remember his former glory, who had seen him win basketball games and the silver cup in debating. He knew of my secret practice of retiring to a cabinet of the washroom to work on poems when business was slack in the warehouse. He called me Shakespeare. And while the other boys in the warehouse regarded me with suspicious hostility, Jim took a humorous attitude toward me. Gradually his attitude affected the others, their hostility wore off and they also began to smile at me as people smile at an oddly fashioned dog who trots across their path at some distance.
I knew that Jim and Laura had known each other at Soldan, and I had heard Laura speak admiringly of his voice. I didn't know if Jim remembered her or not. In high school Laura had been as unobtrusive as Jim had been astonishing. If he did remember Laura, it was not as my sister, for when I asked him to dinner, he grinned and said, 'You know, Shakespeare, I never thought of you as having folks !'
He was about to discover that I did.

Borderline evil or was it? Tom invites Jim over to dinner. Jim, a fallen highschool big man on campus, works with Tom at the factory. In high school, Laura always had a crush on the man that talked to her and called her Blue Roses. Of course, this should naturally play out into a scene of nervousness and confusion because Laura is too shy to approach Jim. But just as she gets close to him, and he kisses her, he tells her that he is really engaged. Unfortunately, this breaks her heart because she has flirted with him and has acted like a young woman for the first time. Everything she did, backfired. Her mother's pushy intent to have her have a boyfriend led to this scene.

I doubt Tom knew Jim was married; but this evening shattered the frail glass mind that is Laura's. I pose this question, even though Tom denied knowing Jim was engaged, do you think he was being honest? Are safe to assume this? Or was this the act that began the unraveling of the times so Tom could travel the lines?

Posted by KatieAikins at October 29, 2005 4:37 PM

I think Tom did know. He knows how pushy & insistent his mother is, and he also knows how shy & withdrawn Laura is, so what perfect way to pacify Amanda & allow Laura some experience with a caller? Find a man that is taken & let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by: Katie Lambert at October 30, 2005 7:20 PM


Is that anyway to look for men?

Posted by: Katie Aikins at October 30, 2005 10:16 PM

I don't think he knew. He seemed to keep to himself at the warehouse. I think Amanda was just being irrational when she accused him of knowing. Amanda even said he was standoffish, so why would she assume that he would know something personal about someone?

I think Tom invited Jim over to appease Amanda so she would stop nagging him. He genuinely wanted Laura to get married so he could leave.

Posted by: Kayla Sawyer at October 31, 2005 10:27 PM

I dont think that Tom knew either. And then when his mother yelled at him because she found out Jim was engaged and thought Tom knew, he lost it and just had to leave. I think that Tom was really just trying to be a good son and brother. Tom feels that he can never satisfy his mother.

Posted by: Denamarie at November 1, 2005 1:50 PM

I'm really not sure what to think. A part of me does think that he knew about Jim being engaged to Betty and part of me doesn't.

At the end he says: "Oh Laura, Laura I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I inteded to be!" I think he did truely care about Laura even if he and his mother didn't get along at all. But maybe he feels guilty because he realized how much Laura was hurt when she found out about the engagement. Why would he said "I am more faithful than I intended to be" if he hadn't purposely picked a man who wasn't available.

But, of course, the line could just be looked at as him feeling guilty because he left Laura and abandoned her. Maybe he thought it woudn't bother him, especially if he didn't really know and therefore thinks he can't be blamed. But, I think it really does bother him, even though he didn't think it would.

Posted by: Lorin Schumacher at November 2, 2005 2:06 PM

I don't think Tom knew, even Jim said that he didn't tell anyone at the warehouse because they would call him "Romeo" (which I found ironic because he calls Tom, Shakespeare, anyone else?!) but i genuinely thought that Tom didn't know. I think it was Amanda's inability to accept something for what it is and she just wants to blame Tom, just like with everything else. I also think that she sees so much of her husband in him that it makes her even more angry.

Posted by: Sean at November 2, 2005 3:34 PM

i would have to say that Tom didnt know. If you look at where Tom invites Jim to dinner, Jim says that he had never thought of Tom having folks. that would be a sign that they hadnt talked about Tom's life outside of work. Also since Laura appears to be the only reason Tom was staying there, it wouldn't make sense for him to be misguiding her. I think the reason why he agreed to get a gentleman caller was so that Laura could have someone to take care of her, and he would be free of responsibility to her. Since he left before he found a way to make sure she was being taken care of he feels guilty at the end of the play. Which would be why she is "touching him on the shoulder"

Posted by: Rachel at December 11, 2005 4:42 PM