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Part 2, Scene 3 Notes from The Glass Menagerie

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The Glass Menagerie Part 2, Scene 3

The screen legend says, "After the fiasco --" and Tom explains from the fire escape that after the fiasco of Rubicam's Business College, Amanda became obsessed with finding a gentleman caller for Laura. "Like some archetype of the universal unconscious, the image of the gentleman caller haunted [their] small apartment . . ." Part 2, Scene 3, pg. 19 The screen image changes to a picture of a young man at the door with flowers. Tom explains that not an evening passed without some reference to this idea, this hope, and Amanda began to take action. Knowing that extra money would be needed to improve the apartment and Laura, Amanda began selling subscriptions to a woman's magazine over the phone.

The screen image changes to the cover of a glamour magazine as Amanda enters with the phone. The spotlight on the dim stage illuminates Amanda as she talks to a woman from her D.A.R. group. She speaks in her sympathetic, sugary style assuring the potential buyer that the sinus condition that ails her makes her no less than "a Christian martyr." Part 2, Scene 3, pg. 20. As Amanda holds the line while her potential customer checks on the food that's burning, Amanda realizes that the other woman has hung up on her. The scene dims out.

The screen legend reads, "You think I'm in love with Continental Shoemakers?" and before the lights come up again, Tom and Amanda's angry voices are heard in the dining room. Laura stands in front of them with hands clenched and a panicked expression on her face. The spotlight remains on only her throughout the scene. Tom is angry because he has nothing of his own in the apartment; even library books that he had checked out were returned without his permission. She says that she will not have such filth as D. H. Lawrence in her house, and Tom interrupts to point out that he pays the rent on her house.

Before he can finish, she's interrupted him again and he rips through the curtains between the dining and living rooms. Amanda is seen in the dining room in metal curlers and an oversized, old bathrobe that must have belonged to Mr. Wingfield. On the dining room table, the typewriter sits, surrounded by a disarray of manuscripts. A chair is overturned on the floor. The dining room is lit with a smoky, red glow that casts their gesturing shadows on the ceiling, and the scene suggests that Amanda interrupted Tom's creative labor. She follows Tom through the curtains insisting that he listen because she's run out of patience with him. He turns on her and points out that he, too, has run out of patience. He says that although it's unimportant to her, there is something he really wants to do, but explains it's not what he has to do. Before he can finish his explanation, she's interrupted him again to accuse him of doing things he's ashamed of. She believes that this is the only excuse for his behavior, and she thinks he lies about going to the movies every night. She says that he has no right to jeopardize his job and their security by staying out so late; he gets only a few hours sleep before work the next day. She thinks it's selfish behavior. Tom yells that he hates his job at the Continental Shoemakers warehouse, but he goes every day to support the family. He insists he'd rather have someone beat his brains out with a crowbar than go back. He says,

"Every time you come in yelling that Goddamn 'Rise and Shine! Rise and Shine!' I say to myself, 'How lucky dead people are!' But I get up. I go! For sixty-five dollars a month I give up all that I dream of doing and being ever! And you say self -- self's all I ever think of. Why, listen, if self is what I thought of, Mother, I'd be where he is -- GONE!" Part 2, Scene 3, pg. 23

He pushes past her to leave and tells her he's going to the movies. She accuses him of lying again and he towers over her and sneers that she's right. He's going to opium dens where he's part of a gang as a hired assassin who carries a tommy gun in a violin case. He says he runs a string of cat houses and goes to casinos with a patch over one eye and a fake mustache. Sometimes he wears green whiskers and then the men of the underworld call him El Diablo. His enemies are planning to dynamite the apartment and blow them all sky high, and he's looking forward to it. He says Amanda will go up into the sky and fly over Blue Mountain like the witch that she is. Then he grabs his coat and as he's clumsily trying to put it on, the shoulder rips. He throws it across the room and it knocks some ornaments from Laura's shelf, sending the glass tinkling onto the floor. She shrieks as if she's been wounded as "The Glass Menagerie" music plays and the screen legend says, "The Glass Menagerie." Laura turns her face away from the broken glass, and Amanda stands stunned by the witch comment as she tells Tom that she won't speak to him until he's apologized to her. She leaves the room and Tom goes to gather up the broken glass as Laura leans weakly against the mantle. Tom looks at her sorrowfully, but he can't speak, and the scene dims out to the music.

Topic Tracking: Escape 3
Topic Tracking: Disappointment 4

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