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"The Glass Menagerie," Scene Three and Scene Four, by Tennessee Williams (1944)

Author: Tennessee Williams

“Scene Three.” and "Scene Four." The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, New Directions, 2011.

Scene 3


[TOM speaks from the fire-escape landing.]

TOM: After the fiasco at Rubicam's Business College, the idea of getting a gentleman caller for Laura began to play a more and more important part in Mother's calculations. It became an obsession. Like some archetype of the universal unconscious, the image of the gentleman caller haunted our small apartment. ...


An evening at home rarely passed without some allusion to this image, this specter, this hope.

Even when he wasn't mentioned, his presence hung in Mother's preoccupied look and in my sister's frightened, apologetic manner - hung like a sentence passed upon the Wingfields !

Mother was a woman of action as well as words.

She began to take logical steps in the planned direction. Late that winter and in the early spring - realizing that extra money would be needed to properly feather the nest and plume the bird - she conducted a vigorous campaign on the- telephone, roping in subscribers to one of those magazines for matrons called The Homemaker’s Companion, the type of journal that features the serialized, sublimations of ladies of letters who think in terms of delicate cup-like breasts, slim, tapering waists, rich, creamy thighs, eyes like wood-smoke in autumn, fingers that soothe and caress like strains of music, bodies as powerful as Etruscan sculpture.


[AMANDA enters with phone on long extension cord. She is spotted in the dim state.]

AMANDA: Ida Scott? This is Amanda Wingfield! We missed you at the D.A.R. last Monday! I said to myself: She's probably suffering with that sinus condition ! How is that sinus condition? Horrors! Heaven have mercy !- You're a Christian martyr, yes, that's what you are, a Christian martyr!

Well, I just have happened to notice that your subscription to the Companion's about to expire! Yes, it expires with the next issue, honey !- just when that wonderful new serial by Bessie Mae Hopper is getting off to such an exciting start. Oh, honey, it's something that you can't miss! You remember how 'Gone With the Wind' took everybody by storm? You simply couldn't go out if you hadn't read it. All everybody talked was Scarlet O'Hara. Well, this is a book that critics already compare to Gone With the Wind. It's the 'Gone With the Wind' of the post-World War generation! - What? -Burning !- Oh, honey, don't let them bum, go take a look in the oven and I'll hold the wire! Heavens - I think she's hung up!



[Before the stage is lighted, the violent voices Of TOM and AMANDA are heard.

They are quarreling behind the portières. In front of them stands LAURA with clenched hands and panicky expression. A clear pool of light on her figure throughout this scene.]

TOM: What in Christ's name am!

AMANDA [shrilly]: Don't you use that -

TOM: Supposed to do !

AMANDA: Expression !Not in my -

TOM: Ohhh! !

AMANDA: Presence ! Have you gone out of your senses?

TOM: I have, that's true, driven out !

AMANDA: What is the matter with you, you - big - big IDIOT !

TOM: Look! I've got nothing, no single thing !

AMANDA: Lower Your Voice !

TOM: In my life here that I can call my OWN! Everything is -

AMANDA: Stop that shouting!

TOM: Yesterday you confiscated my books ! You had the nerve to -

AMANDA: I took that horrible novel back to the library- yes! That hideous book by that insane Mr. Lawrence. [Tom laughs wildly.] I cannot control the output of diseased minds or people who cater to them - [Tom laughs still more wildly.] BUT I WON'T ALLOW SUCH FILTH BROUGHT INTO MY HOUSE ! NO, no, no, no, no!

TOM: House, house! Who pays rent on it, who makes a slave of himself to -

AMANDA [fairly screeching]: Don't you DARE to -

TOM: No, no, I mustn't say things ! I've got to just -

AMANDA: Let me tell you-

TOM: I don't want to hear any more! [He tears the portières open. The upstage area is lit with a turgid smoky red glow.]

[AMANDA's hair is in metal curlers and she wears a very old bathrobe much too large for her slight figure, a relic of the faithless Mr Wingfield. An upright typewriter and a wild disarray of manuscripts are on the drop-leaf table. The quarrel was probably precipitated by his creative labor. A chair lying overthrown on the floor.

Their gesticulating shadows are cast on the ceiling by the fiery glow.]

AMANDA: You will hear more, you -

TOM: No, I won' t hear more, I'm going out !

AMANDA: You come right back in -

TOM: Out, out, out! Because I'm -

A M A N D A: Come back here, Tom Wingfield! I'm not through talking to you!

TOM: Oh, go -

LAURA [desperately]: Tom!

AMANDA: You're going to listen, and no more insolence from you ! I'm at the end of my patience!

[He comes back toward her.]

TOM: What do you think I'm at? Aren't I supposed to have any patience to reach the end of, Mother? I know, I know. It seems unimportant to you, what I'm doing - what I want to do - having a little difference between them! You don't think that -

AMANDA: I think you've been doing things that you're ashamed of. That's why you act like this. I don't believe that you go every night to the movies. Nobody goes to the movies night after night. Nobody in their right mind goes to the movies as often as you pretend to. People don't go to the movies at nearly midnight, and movies don't let out at two a.m. Come in stumbling. Muttering to yourself like a maniac! You get three hours' sleep and then go to work. Oh, I can picture the way you're doing down there. Moping, doping, because you're in no condition.

TOM [wildly]: No, I'm in no condition!

AMANDA: What right have you got to jeopardize your job - jeopardize the security of us all? How do you think we'd manage if you were -

TOM: Listen! You think I'm crazy about the warehouse? [He bonds fiercely toward her slight figure.] You think I'm in love with the Continental Shoemakers? You think I want to spend fifty-five years down there in that - Celotex interior! with - fluorescent - tubes! Look! I'd rather somebody picked up a crowbar and battered out my brains - than go back mornings! I go ! Every time you come in yelling………

that God damn '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 - selfs' all I ever think of. Why, listen, if self is what I thought of, Mother, I'd be where he is -G 0 N E ! [Pointing to fathers picture.] As far as the system of transportation reaches ! [He starts past her. She grabs his arm.] Don't grab at me, Mother!

AMANDA: Where are you going?

TOM: I'm going to the movies!

AMANDA: I don't believe that lie !

TOM [crouching toward her, overtowering her tiny figure. She backs away, gasping]: I'm going to opium dens! Yes, opium dens, dens of vice and criminals' hang-outs, Mother. I've joined the Hogan gang, I'm a hired assassin, I carry a tommy-gun in a violin case! I run a string of cat-houses in the Valley! They call me Killer, Killer Wingfield, I'm leading a double-life, a simple, honest warehouse worker by day, by night a dynamic tsar of the underworld, Mother. I go to gambling casinos, I spin away fortunes on the roulette table! I wear a patch over one eye and a false mustache, sometimes I put on green whiskers. On those occasions they call me -El Diablo ! Oh, I could tell you things to make you sleepless! My enemies plan to dynamite this place. They're going to blow us all sky-high some night! I'll be glad, very happy, and so will you! You'll go up, up on a broomstick, over Blue Mountain with seventeen gentlemen callers! You ugly - babbling old - witch. [He goes through a series of violent, clumsy movements, seizing his overcoat, lunging to do door, pulling it fiercely open. The women watch him, aghast. His arm catches in the sleeve of the coat as he struggles to pull it on. For a moment he is pinioned by the bulky garment. With an outraged groan he tears the coat off again, splitting the shoulder of it, and hurls it across the room. It strikes against the shelf of Laura's glass collection, there is a tinkle of shattering glass. LAURA cries out as if wounded.]


LAURA [shrilly] : My glass ! - menagerie. . . . [She covers her face and turns away.]

[But AMANDA is still stunned and stupefied by the 'ugly witch' so that she barely notices this occurrence. Now she recovers her speech.]

AMANDA [in an awful voice]: I won't speak to you - until you apologize ! [She crosses through portières and draws them together behind her. TOM is left with LAURA. LAURA Clings weakly to the mantel with her face averted. TOM stares at her stupidly for a moment. Then he crosses to shelf. Drops awkwardly on his knees to collect the fallen glass, glancing at LAURA as if he would speak but couldn't.]

'The Glass Menagerie' steals in as


Scene 4

The interior is dark. Faint light in the alley.

A deep-voiced bell in a church is tolling the hour of five as the scene commences.

[Tom appears at the top of the alley. After each solemn boom of the bell in the tower, he shakes a little noise-maker or rattle as

if to express the tiny spasm of man in contrast to the sustained power and dignity of the Almighty. This and the unsteadiness of his advance make it evident that he has been drinking.

As he climbs Me few steps to the fire-escape landing light steals up inside. Laura appears in night-dress observing Tom's empty bed in the front room.

TOM fishes in his pockets for door-key removing a motley assortment of articles in the search, including a perfect shower

of movie-ticket stubs and an empty bottle. At last he finds the key, but just as he is about to insert it, it slips from his fingers. He strikes a match and crouches below the door.]

TOM [bitterly]:: One crack -and it falls through!

[LAURA opens the door.]

LAURA: Tom! Tom, what are you doing?

TOM: Looking for a door-key.

LAURA: Where have you been all this time?

TOM: I have been to the movies.

LAURA: All this time at the movies?

TO M: There was a very long program. There was a Garbo picture and a Mickey Mouse and a travelogue and a newsreel and a preview of coming attractions. And there was an organ solo and a collection for the milk-fund - simultaneously - which ended up in a terrible fight between a fat lady and an usher !

LAURA [innocently]: Did you have to stay through everything?

TOM: Of course! And, oh, I forgot ! There was a big stage show! The headliner on this stage show was Malvolio the

Magician. He performed wonderful tricks, many of them, such as pouring water back and forth between pitchers.

First it turned to wine and then it turned to beer and then it turned to whiskey. I knew it was whiskey it finally turned into because he needed somebody to come up out of the audience to help him, and I came up - both shows! It was Kentucky Straight Bourbon. A very generous fellow, he gave souvenirs. (He pulls from his back pocket a shimmering

rainbow-colored scarf.) He gave me this. This is his magic scarf. You can have it, Laura. You wave it over a canary

cage and you get a bowl of goldfish. You wave it over the gold-fish bowl and they fly away canaries. . . . But the wonderfulest trick of all was the coffin trick. We nailed him into a coffin and he got out of the coffin without removing one nail, [He has come inside.] There is a trick that would come in handy for me - get me out of this 2 by 4 situation! [Flops on to a bed and starts removing shoes.]

LAURA: Tom? Shhh'!

TO M: What're you shushing me for?

LAURA: You'll wake up mother.

TOM: Goody, goody! Pay 'er back for all those 'Rise an' Shines'. [Lies down, groaning.] You know it don't take much intelligence to get yourself into a nailed-up coffin, Laura. But who in hell ever got himself out of one without removing one nail?

[As if in answer, the father's grinning photograph lights up.]


[Immediately following: The church bell is heard striking six. At the sixth stroke the alarm clock goes off in AMANDA's room, and after a few moments we hear her calling "Rise and Shine! Rise and Shine! Laura, go tell your brother to rise and shine!']

TOM [sitting up slowly]: I'll rise -but I won't shine

[The light increases.]

AMANDA: Laura, tell your brother his coffee is ready.

[LAURA slips into front room.]

LAURA: Tom!- It's nearly seven. Don't make mother nervous. [He stares at her stupidly. Beseechingly.] Tom, speak to mother this morning. Make up with her, apologize, speak to her !

TOM: She won't to me. It's her that started not speaking.

LAURA: If you just say you're sorry she'll start speaking.

TOM: Her not speaking - is that such a tragedy?

LAURA: Please - please!

AMANDA [calling from kitchenette]: Laura, are you going to do what I asked you to do, or do I have to get dressed and go out myself?

LAURA: Going, going - soon as I get on my coat ![ She pulls on a shapeless felt hat with nervous, jerky movement, pleadingly

glancing at TOM. Rushes awkwardly for coat. The coat is one of AMANDA's, inaccurately made-over the sleeves too short for LAURA.] Butter and what else?

AMANDA [centering upstage]: Just butter. Tell them to charge it.

LAURA: Mother, they make such faces when I do that

AMANDA: Sticks and stones can break our bones, but the expression on Mr Garfinkel's face won't harm us ! Tell your his coffee is getting cold.

LAURA [at door]: Do what I asked you, will you, will you,


[He looks sullenly away.]

AMANDA: Laura, go now or just don't go at all !

LAURA [rushing out]: Going -going! [A second later she cries Out. TOM Springs up and crosses to door. AMANDA rushes anxiously in. TOM opens the door.]

TOM: Laura?

LAURA: I'm all right. I slipped, but I'm all right.

AMANDA [peering anxiously after her]: If anyone breaks a leg on those fire-escape steps, the landlord ought to be sued for every cent he possesses ! [She shuts door. Remembers she isn't speaking and returns to other room.]

[As TOM enters listlessly for his coffee she turns her back to him and stands rigidly facing the window on the gloomy gray vault of the areaway. Its light on her face with its aged but childish features is cruelly sharp, satirical as a Daumier print.


TOM glances sheepishly but sullenly at her averted figure and slumps at the table. The coffee is scalding hot; he sips it and gasps and spits it back in the cup. At his gasp, AMANDA catches her breath and half turns. Then catches herself and turns back to window.

Tom blows on his coffee, glancing sidewise at his mother. She clears her throat. TOM clears his. He starts to rise. Sinks back down again, scratches his head, clears his throat again. AMANDA Coughs. TOM raises his cup in both hands to blow on it - his eyes staring over the rim of it at his mother for several moments. Then he slowly sets the cup down and awkwardly and hesitantly rises from the chair.]

TOM [hoarsely]: Mother. ! - I apologize, Mother. [AMANDA draws a quick, shuddering breath. Her face works grotesquely. She breaks into childlike tears.] I'm sorry for what I said, for everything that I said; I didn't mean it.

AMANDA [sobbingly]: My devotion has made me a witch and so I make myself hateful to my children !

TOM: NO, you don't.

AMANDA: I worry so much, don't sleep, it makes me nervous!

TOM [gently]: I understand that.

AMANDA: I've had to put up a solitary battle all these years. But you're my right-hand bower ! Don't fall down, don't fail !

TOM [gently]: I try, Mother.

AMANDA [with great enthusiasm]: Try and you will suCCEED! [ The notion makes her breathless] Why, you -you're just full of natural endowments ! Both of my children - they're unusual children ! Don't you think I know it? I'm so proud! Happy and - feel I've - so much to be thankful for but - Promise me one thing, Son !

TOM: What, Mother?

AMANDA: Promise, Son, you'll - never be a drunkard!

TOM [turns to her grinning]: I will never be a drunkard, Mother.

AMANDA: That's what frightened me so, that you'd be drinking ! Eat a bowl of Purina !

TOM: Just Coffee, Mother.

AMANDA: Shredded wheat biscuit?

Tom: No. No, Mother, just coffee.

AMANDA: You can't put in a day's work on an empty stomach. You've got ten minutes - don't gulp ! Drinking

too hot liquids makes cancer of the stomach. Put cream in.

TOM: No, thank you.

AMANDA: To cool it.

TOM . No! No, thank you, I want it black.

AMANDA: I know, but it's not good for you. We have to do all that we can to build ourselves up. In these trying times we live in, all that we have to cling to is - each other. . . . That's why it's so important to - Tom, ! - I sent out your sister so I could discuss something with you. If you hadn't spoken I would have spoken to you. [Sits down.]

TOM [gently]: What is it, Mother, that you want to discuss?

AMANDA: Laura!

[Tom puts his cup down slowly.



TOM: - Oh. - Laura ...

AMANDA [touching his sleeve] You know how Laura is. So quiet but - still water runs deep ! She notices things and I think she - broods about them. [Tom looks up.] A few days ago I came in and she was crying.

TOM: What about?


TOM: Me?

AMANDA: She has an idea that you're not happy here

TOM: What gave her that idea?

AMANDA: What gives her any idea? However, you do act strangely. ! - I'm not criticizing, understand that! I know your ambitions do not lie in the warehouse, that like everybody in the whole wide world - you've had to make sacrifices, but - Tom - Tom - life's not easy, it calls for - Spartan endurance ! There's so many things in my heart that I cannot describe to you ! I've never told you but - I loved your father. . . .

TOM [gently]: I know that, Mother.

AMANDA: And you - when I see you taking after his ways! Staying out late - and - well, you had been drinking the night you were in that - terrifying condition ! Laura says that you hate the apartment and that you go out nights to get away from it! Is that true, Tom?

TOM: No. You say there's so much in your heart that you can't describe to me. That's true of me, too. There's so much in my heart that I can't describe to"you! So let's respect each other's -

AMANDA: But, why - why, Tom - am you always so restless? Where do you go to, nights?

TOM: I - go to the movies.

AMANDA: Why do you go to the movies so much, Tom?

TO M: I go to the movies because - I like adventure

Adventure is something I don't have much of at work, so I go to the movies.

AMANDA: But, Tom, you go to the movies entirely too much!

TOM: I like a lot of adventure.

[AMANDA looks baffled, then hurt As the familiar inquisition resumes he becomes hard and impatient again. AMANDA SLIPS back into her querulous attitude towards him.


AMANDA: Most young men find adventure in their careers.

TOM: Then most young men are not employed in a warehouse.

AMANDA: The world is full of young men employed in warehouses and offices and factories.

TOM: Do all of them find adventure in their careers?

AMANDA: They do or they do without it! Not everybody has a craze for adventure.

TOM: Man is by instinct a lover, a hunter, a fighter, and none of those instincts are given much play at the warehouse !

AMANDA: Man is by instinct! Don't quote instinct to me! Instinct is something that people have got away from ! It belongs to animals ! Christian adults don't want it !

TOM: , What do Christian adults want, then, Mother?

AMANDA: Superior things! Things of the mind and the spirit ! Only animals have to satisfy instincts ! Surely your aims are somewhat higher than theirs ! Than monkeys - pigs

TOM: I reckon they're not.

AMANDA: You're joking. However, that isn't what I wanted to discuss.

TOM [rising] I haven't much time.

AMANDA [pushing his shoulders] Sit down.

TOM: You want me to punch in red at the warehouse, Mother?

AMANDA: You have five minutes. I want to talk about Laura.


TOM: All right! What about Laura?

AMANDA: We have to be making some plans and provisions for her. She's older than you, two years, and nothing has happened. She just drifts along doing nothing. It frightens me terribly how she just drifts along.

TOM: I guess she's the type that people call home girls.

AMANDA: There's no such type, and if there is, it's a pity ! That is unless the home is hers, with a husband !

TOM: What?

AMANDA: Oh, I can see the handwriting on the wall as plain as I see the nose in front of my face ! It's terrifying! More and more you remind me of your father ! He was out all hours without explanation ! - Then left! Good-bye! And me with the bag to hold. I saw that letter you got from the Merchant Marine. I know what you're dreaming of. I'm not standing here blindfolded.

Very well, then. Then, do it ! But not till there's somebody to take your place.

TOM: What do you mean?

AMANDA: I mean that as soon as Laura has got somebody to take care of her, married, a home of her own, independent ?- why, then you'll be free to go wherever you please, on land, on sea, whichever way the wind blows you!

But until that time you've got to look out for your sister. I don't say me because I'm old and don't matter - I say for your sister because she's young and dependent.

I put her in business college - a dismal failure! Frightened her so it made her sick at the stomach.

I took her over to the Young Peoples League at the church. Another fiasco. She spoke to nobody, nobody spoke to her. Now all she does is fool with those pieces of glass and play those worn-out records. What kind of a life is that for a girl to lead?

TOM: What can I do about it?

AMANDA: Overcome Selfishness! Self, self, self is all that you ever think of!

[Tom springs up and crosses to get his coat. It is ugly and bulky He pulls on a cap with earmuffs.]

Where is your muffler? Put your wool muffler on ! [He snatches it angrily from the closet and tosses it around his neck and pulls both ends tight.] Tom! I haven't said what I had in mind to ask you.

TOM: I'm too late to

AMANDA [catching his arm - very importunately. Then shyly]: Down at the warehouse, aren't there some - nice young men?

TOM: No !

AMANDA: There must be - some

TOM: Mother [Gesture.]

AMANDA: Find out one that's clean-living - doesn't drink and - ask him out for sister !

TOM: What?

AMANDA: For sister ! To meet ! Get acquainted

TOM [stamping to door]: Oh, my goosh !

AMANDA: Will you? [He opens door. Imploringly.] Will you? [He starts down.] Will you? Will you, dear?

TOM [calling back]: YES!

[AMANDA closes the door hesitantly and with a troubled but faintly hopeful expression.


AMANDA: Ella Cartwright? This is Amanda Wingfield! How are you, honey?

How is that kidney condition?

[Count Five]


[Count five.]

You're a Christian martyr, yes, honey, that's what you are, a Christian martyr!

Well, I just now happened to notice in my little red book that your subscription to the Companion has just run out! I knew that you wouldn't want to miss out on the wonderful serial starting in this issue. It's by Bessie Mae Hopper, the first thing she's written since Honeymoon for Three.

Wasn't that a strange and interesting story? Well, this one is even lovelier, I believe. It has a sophisticated, society background. It's all about the horsy set on Long Island!


DMU Timestamp: February 21, 2020 23:45