Part 4, Scene 7 Notes from The Glass Menagerie

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The Glass Menagerie Part 4, Scene 7

A half-hour has passed and dinner is ending. Laura is on the couch with her feet huddled beneath her and her eyes wide and strangely watchful. The soft light from the new floor lamp makes her face unearthly pretty as the rain falls outside and then drizzles to a stop. A moment after the curtain rises, the lights flicker and then go out. The screen legend reads, "Suspension of public service." Amanda, joking off the embarrassment, lights a candle on the table and leads Jim into the kitchenette to check the fuse box. The fuses are fine, and Amanda asks Tom if he paid the light bill, but he hadn't. The screen legend says, "Ha!" She chalks it up to negligence and he doesn't tell her about the Merchant Marines. She then insists that Tom help her with the dishes and sends Jim in the living room with a candelabrum and a glass of dandelion wine for Laura.

Laura sits up uneasily as Jim comes in the living room; she's so nervous she can hardly speak. The screen legend says, "I don't suppose you remember me at all!" As Laura talks to Jim, her voice is breathless and thin; Jim is perfectly comfortable, not really aware of how important this moment is to Laura. He convinces her to sit on the floor with him, with the candelabrum between them, and he begins to draw her out of her shell with his jovial conversation. She finally asks him if he's kept up with his singing, and she explains that they went to high school together. He claims that he had the feeling he'd seen her before, but what he started to call her wasn't really a name, it was "Blue Roses." She clears up the mystery for him by explaining why he called her that and reminding him that they had a singing class together and sat across the aisle from each other. He remembers that she always came in late and she explains that the brace on her foot made climbing stairs difficult. She always felt self-conscious walking in with that clumping noise after everyone had already taken their seats. Jim never noticed the noise and insists that she shouldn't have been so worried about it. He remembers that she was a loner; she blames it on her handicap and her shyness, and he tells her that she should work to overcome her shyness because her handicap is hardly noticeable. He tells her that she's looking at things the wrong way. He says, "You think of yourself as having the only problems, as being the only one who is disappointed. But just look around you and you will see lots of people as disappointed as you are." Part 4, Scene 7, pg. 76

He admits that he's a little disappointed that he hasn't made it further in life by now as he expected to after high school. Laura brings out the yearbook and they look through the pictures of him in various poses of glory. Laura, relaxing a little, admits that she saw all three performances of The Pirates of Penzance because she was hoping he would sign her program, but she never asked him to because he was always surrounded by his own friends and a crowd of girls. He admits that he was rather spoiled by attention back then and signs her program with the comment that although his autograph's not worth much now, he hopes its value will increase someday. She asks how his high school girlfriend is doing and he explains that they were never engaged at all and he hasn't seen her in years.

Topic Tracking: Disappointment 8

The screen legend reads, "What have you done since high school?" Jim lights a cigarette and smiles at Laura in a way that seems to light altar candles in her face. She picks up a piece of her glass menagerie and looks at it to hide her tumultuous emotion. Jim asks about Laura's life since high school and she explains that she really doesn't do much beyond taking care of her glass menagerie. Jim, hardly hearing what she's saying, announces that he thinks she has an inferiority complex. As he's explaining that she just has to find the one (or in some cases several -- looking at himself in the mirror) area in which she excels. As he explains how he's using the areas he excels in to prepare for a future in television, he looks at his starry-eyed reflection in the mirror. Laura seems in awe as he asks her where her interests lie. "The Glass Menagerie" music plays as she shows him the unicorn from her glass menagerie; it's her favorite piece. He suggests that the unicorn must get lonely because it's different from all the others, but she explains that he stays on a shelf with the horses and seems happy enough. Jim, warning that he's clumsy, holds it up to the candlelight and watches the light shine through it. Jim sets the ornament on the coffee table and opens the fire escape door - the music from the dance hall is a waltz.

Jim asks Laura to dance as "La Golondrina" plays. She tells him that she can't dance, but he convinces her and they take a few clumsy turns around the room before they bump into the table and knock the unicorn to the floor. The horn of the unicorn has broken off and Jim feels bad because it was her favorite, but Laura doesn't take it too hard. She tells him, "Glass breaks so easily. No matter how careful you are." Part 4, Scene 7, pg. 86 She says that now he'll fit in better with the horses, and Jim applauds her sense of humor. Then his voice changes; he grows serious. He tells her that she's different from all the other girls he knows. She looks away speechless. He tells her that she's pretty and the music rises slightly. He tells her that if she were his sister, he'd teach her to have some confidence because she's special. While other people are as common as weeds, she's blue roses. The screen image is blue roses and the music changes as Laura explains that blue isn't right for roses. Jim insists that it's right for her. He insists that someone ought to make her realize how special she is; someone ought to kiss her. As the music swells, he kisses her and then she sinks onto the sofa with a dazed and bright expression. Jim backs away and lights a cigarette, realizing that he's made a mistake.

Topic Tracking: Expectation 9

The screen legend reads, "A Souvenir" as Laura sits on the couch looking tenderly at the glass ornament. Amanda's laughter rings from offstage in the kitchenette while Jim tries to find the right way to rectify the situation he's created. He can tell by the way Laura looks and is acting that she expects that he'll call to visit and they'll date, but that's not how it's going to work out. He sits awkwardly beside her on the couch and explains that he's in love with someone. The screen legend becomes, "Love!" Laura sways slightly at the news, but Jim doesn't notice because he's on a roll about how wonderful it is to be in love and how he's such a better person for having this girl in his life, so he won't be coming back to see Laura. He accepted the dinner invitation because his girlfriend is out of town, and he didn't realize it was a fix-up. Laura's expression is desolate and the light that brightened her face has gone out. Her silence makes Jim uneasy, and with trembling lips, she puts the unicorn into his hand and tells him to keep it as a souvenir. She goes and plays the Victrola.

Topic Tracking: Disappointment 9

The screen legend says, "Things have a way of turning out so badly," and the image is of a gentleman caller happily waving goodbye. Amanda comes in and notices the serious expression on Laura's face and Jim explains why. Amanda has brought lemonade and cookies, but Jim is preparing to leave. There is an ominous sound as the storm builds up again. When Amanda insists that he must come visit again, Jim explains that he can't because he is engaged. The rain begins to pour down in torrents and the screen legend reads, "The Sky Falls!" Jim thanks Amanda for her hospitality and tells Laura to take his advice to heart. He thanks her for the souvenir and then leaves.

Topic Tracking: Disappointment 10

As Laura crouches near the Victrola, not looking at her mother, Amanda calls Tom into the living room to congratulate him on his joke. Unsuspectingly, he comes in with punch and a cookie, only to be greeted by his mother's accusation that he knew Jim was engaged and did this to make a fool of her and his sister. Tom insists that he didn't know. The warehouse is just where he works, not where he knows everything about everyone. Amanda says, "You don't know things anywhere! You live in a dream: you manufacture illusions." Part 4, Scene 7, pg. 95. Tom heads to the door to go to the movies and Amanda yells about his selfishness. He insists that the more she yells at him, the faster he'll go, but this time he may go further than the movies. She tells him to just go to the moon then, and he slams out the door after smashing his glass onto the floor. Laura screams in fear. He stands on the fire escape as the moon breaks through the clouds and illuminates his face.

The screen legend says, "And so, goodbye . . ." As Tom speaks from the fire escape as the narrator again, Amanda mimes a comforting speech to Laura who is huddled on the couch with her face hidden by her hair. Then, as Amanda leaves the room, she looks up at the photograph and exits through the curtains. Tom says, "I didn't go to the moon, I went much further -- for time is the longest distance between two places." Part 4, Scene 7, pg. 96 He explains that he was soon fired from the warehouse for writing a poem on the lid of a shoebox. After that, he followed in his father's footsteps and wandered around, pursued by something that always sneaked up on him when he was alone. Bits of familiar music, translucent glass, and tiny perfume bottles in delicately colored glass always brought Laura to mind. She would touch him on the shoulder and he'd look into her eyes. Tom says that he's tried to leave her behind, but she haunts him, and he has to run away -- to a bar, to the movies -- anything that can make her memory fade. Laura bends over the candelabrum as he says, "For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura -- and so, goodbye . . ." Part 4, Scene 7, pg. 97 Laura blows the candles out.

Topic Tracking: Escape 11
Topic Tracking: Expectation 10

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