Part 3, Scene 5 Notes from The Glass Menagerie

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The Glass Menagerie Part 3, Scene 5

The screen legend reads, "Annunciation," and music plays softly as the light rises slowly on the Wingfield dining room. Amanda and Laura are silently and almost formally removing the supper dishes from the table. It is the early dusk of a spring evening, and Tom rises from the table and goes out to the fire escape. Amanda asks him to comb his hair and he slouches on the couch with a paper headlined, "Franco Triumphs." Amanda talks about how she wishes Tom would emulate his father in only one respect: his attention to personal appearance. Tom throws the paper down and goes to smoke, and Amanda nags him about how much he smokes and how that money would be better spent on a night course at the local college. He'd rather smoke, he says. She looks at Mr. Wingfield's photograph while "The World is Waiting for Sunrise" plays in the background. Tom addresses the audience, taking on his role as narrator for the moment to explain that sometimes the music from the Paradise Dance Hall across the alley would come into their home. From the fire escape, couples could be seen kissing in the alley. He says,

"This was the compensation for lives that passed like mine, without any change or adventure. Adventure and change were imminent in this year. They were waiting around the corner for all these kids. Suspended in the mist over Berchtesgaden, caught in the folds of Chamberlain's umbrella. In Spain there was Guernica! But here there was only hot swing music and liquor, dance halls, bars, and movies, and sex that hung in the gloom like a chandelier and flooded the world with brief, deceptive rainbows. . . . All the world was waiting for bombardments!" Part 3, Scene 5, pg. 39

Amanda comes outside and she and Tom both wish on the moon, but Tom won't tell what he wished for. Amanda says she wished for success and happiness for her children as she always does, moon or no moon. Tom expected her to wish for a gentleman caller, and when she asks why, he explains that it was the natural conclusion to draw given that she asked him to find one. He tells her that he's bringing someone home from the factory tomorrow, and the music rises while the screen image becomes a picture of a gentleman caller with a bouquet. Amanda insists that Tom hasn't given her enough time to prepare, but she'll get everything taken care of in time.

She drags Tom inside with her so she can give him the third degree about this boy he's found for Laura, and Tom explains that his name is Jim O'Connor. He's a friendly shipping clerk who takes night classes in radio engineering and public speaking. Amanda asks whether he drinks; she'd rather that Laura be an old maid than marry a drunkard. Tom thinks Amanda is getting ahead of herself given that Jim hasn't even met Laura yet. In fact, he doesn't even know about Laura yet. Amanda tells him, "You are the only young man that I know of who ignores the fact that the future becomes the present, the present becomes the past, and the past turns into everlasting regret if you don't plan for it!" Part 3, Scene 5, pg. 45. Amanda is sure that when Jim sees Laura, he'll be won over, but Tom is not so sure. He believes that Laura is pretty and sweet and wonderful to them because they're her family, but he thinks that people outside their family might find her terrible shyness, her handicap, and her complete absorption in her glass menagerie somewhat peculiar. An ominous tango plays in the background as he points out that Laura lives in "a world of her own -- a world of glass ornaments." Part 3, Scene 5, pg. 48

Topic Tracking: Escape 7
Topic Tracking: Disappointment 5
Topic Tracking: Expectation 7

Tom gets up to go to the movies, and Amanda yells down the fire escape after him that she still doesn't believe he goes to the movies. She looks after him with a worried expression and then calls to Laura to come make a wish on the moon. The screen image changes to a picture of the moon as Laura enters somewhat dazed. She asks what she should wish for and Amanda, with tears, suggests happiness and good fortune. Violin music rises and the lights dim.

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