The Glass Menagerie Part 1, Scene 2
The screen image of blue roses fades as Laura's figure becomes visible in the rising lights, and "The Glass Menagerie" music stops. She is cleaning her glass ornaments when she hears Amanda coming up the fire escape stairs, so she hurriedly puts the glass away and sits in front of the typing chart as if she's been studying it the whole time Amanda was gone. As Amanda climbs the stairs in her imitation velvet coat with a faux fur collar, a 5- or 6-year-old cloche hat from the late 20's, a patent leather wallet with nickel clasps clutched in her hand, her expression is grim and stricken. She peers in the doorway and sees Laura at the typewriter and purses her lips, rolls her eyes, and shakes her head. She walks in and Laura nervously puts a hand to her lips and then gestures to the chart to show she's been studying it. Amanda leans against the closed door and stares at Laura with a dramatic, martyred expression. As Amanda continues her dramatic performance of the deceived and betrayed mother, she confronts Laura about dropping out of the typing class at Rubicam's Business College. The projector screen shows an image of a swarm of typewriters.
Amanda missed her D.A.R. meeting because when she stopped by the school to check up on Laura's progress, she learned that Laura hadn't attended class since she threw up in the classroom before the first timed test. The news shook Amanda not only because Laura had been deceiving her, but also because $50 of tuition had been wasted along with Amanda's hope that Laura could get a job somewhere and support herself. Laura tells her mother that she's been going out walking everyday instead of going to class. From 7:30 to 5, she walks around the city, but spends most of her time in the park. The screen image changes to a park in winter. When Amanda asks why Laura didn't tell her that she wasn't going to class anymore, Laura responds, "Mother, when you're disappointed, you get that awful suffering look on your face, like the picture of Jesus' mother in the museum." Part 1, Scene 2, pg. 15. Laura couldn't face that expression.
In the pause after Laura's statement, the screen legend becomes, "The Crust of Humility." Amanda worries what will become of Laura now. She asks if she will just sit around and amuse herself with her glass menagerie and play the old records Mr. Wingfield left behind, willing to sacrifice a business career just because it made her sick to her stomach. Amanda says that she knows what happens to unmarried, jobless women. She says,
"I've seen such pitiful cases in the South -- barely tolerated spinsters living upon the grudging patronage of sister's husband or brother's wife! -- stuck away in some little mousetrap of a room -- encouraged by one in-law to visit another -- little birdlike women without any nest -- eating the crust of humility all their life!" Part 1, Scene 2, pg. 16
The future she has described is bleak, and if a business career for Laura is out, she offers up marriage as an alternative. She quizzes Laura about boys -- if there's ever been one Laura liked at all -- and Laura remembers only one from high school who sat next to her in a choir class. The screen image becomes a picture of Jim: a high school hero with a silver trophy. Laura shows her mother a picture of him in the yearbook from the senior operetta in which he played the lead, and then another picture of him with the debate trophy he won. Amanda hardly pays attention as Laura talks about how he called her "Blue Roses" Part 1, Scene 2, pg. 17 because he had once misunderstood her when she told him that she had missed school because she had pleurosis. He'd called her Blue Roses after that, and she points out that in the yearbook it mentions that he was engaged, so she assumes he must be married by now.
Amanda says that girls who aren't cut out for business careers get married, and that's what Laura will do. The idea seems to rejuvenate Amanda and she looks up at the photograph of the fugitive Mr. Wingfield while Laura seems doubtful of her mother's plan. She reaches for a piece of glass and reminds Amanda in an apologetic way that she's crippled. Amanda shushes her with assurances that her defect is only slight and that people with a slight disadvantage must cultivate other things, such as charm, to even it all out. Amanda looks at the picture again and says that her husband definitely had plenty of charm, and the scene fades with music.