The Glass Menagerie Student Packet Troy High School by alicejenny


									       Advanced Comp. & Novel
             Mrs. Lutes

Name_________________           Pd.___

Look up information and record your findings for the following items. This
information will help your overall understanding of the play.

1. A definition and brief background on the role of the “drummer” in American society.

2. What are jonquils? What do they look like and how much do they cost?

3. What is Guernica? Describe it and note some background information. What
   famous person is linked with it?

4. What is a Daumier print and what does it look like? Who is Daumier?

5. What is the DAR and how does one become a member?

6. What is Frigidaire? What products does it manufacture?

7. What are the United States Merchant Marines? Note some background information
   on the different ranks and their responsibilities.

8. Contrast the “cavalier” attitudes, manners, and mores of the pre-Civil War South vs.
   those of the “mechanized” industrial antebellum South.

Record your definitions for the following words below.
1. menagerie-                            23. grotesquely-

2. conglomeration-                       24. endowments-

3. automaton-                            25. broods-

4. ineluctably-                          26. inquisition-

5. matriculating-                        27. querulous-

6. emissary-                             28. imminent-

7. mastication-                          29. sphinx-

8. elegiac-                              30. supercilious-

9. beaux-                                31. discreet-

10. patronage-                           32. illuminating-

11. fiasco-                              33. ulterior-

12. archetype-                           34. unobtrusive-

13. specter-                             35. cotillion-

14. preoccupied-                         36. sashayed-

15. confiscated-                         37. marquees-

16. relic-                               38. paragon-

17. precipitated-                        39. vestige-

18. gesticulating-                       40. tribulations-

19. insolence-                           41. tumult-

20. jeopardize-                          42. gingerly-

21. motley-                              43. decorously-

22. beseechingly-                        44. perturbation-

Study/Discussion Questions

Part I: Preparation for a Gentleman Caller
Scene One
1. Reread the description of the setting at the beginning of the scene. Why is the
   physical setting of the play described in such careful detail? What feeling does the
   setting convey?
2. Tom is dressed in a merchant sailor‟s uniform. What effect does his clothing have?
   Why does Tom‟s speech open with a comparison of his role to that of a stage
3. Why does Tom contrast the social backgrounds of Spain and America in his opening
4. Tom tells us that “the play is memory.” Why is the drama styled as a memory play
   and what does this mean? What sets and staging techniques reinforce the idea of
   this being a memory play? How so?
5. What freedom does the play being a memory play afford Tom?
6. Review Tom‟s monologue at the beginning of the scene and his interjections
   throughout. What two functions does Tom have in the play? What difference in
   temperament do you notice in Tom in these two different roles? What do we
   discover about Tom‟s life at home in the brief first scene?
7. Why is the narrator called an “undisguised convention”?
8. What does the gentleman caller at the end of the play symbolize according to the
   narrator? Why does Tom say there is a fifth character in the play? Who is this?
9. What lines and/or situations lead you to believe that there is tension in the family at
   the outset of the play?
10. What is the reason for using scrims (transparent gauze curtains) to separate and
   differentiate the various scenes?
11. What do we learn about Laura in this scene?
12. Review Amanda‟s speeches in this scene. What do you learn about Amanda‟s past?
    How does Amanda view her own past? What indications are there that her past was
    not exactly as she remembers it? How does she impose her own past on her
    children‟s lives in the present?
13. Throughout the play, the reader/audience is challenged to distinguish between
    illusion and reality. As narrator in scene 1, Tom tells us that he has “tricks in [his]
    pocket—things up [his] sleeve…” He admits the “play is memory.” How is memory
    an illusion?
14. In Scene 1, what type(s) of illusions does Amanda entertain in regards to her past
    life? Her present life? About Tom? About Laura?

Scene 2
1. As Amanda comes up the fire escape, Laura‟s actions are described. What are these
   actions and what do they reveal about her? What has Amanda done that day?
2. In this scene, Amanda learns that Laura has dropped out of Rubicam Business
    College. Why was Laura attending Rubicam‟s? Why was Laura not able to succeed
    in the business college? What did Laura do during the time she was to be attending

3. Also, in scene 2, we learn of Laura‟s past. Who did Laura like in high school?
   Describe him.
4. What is revealed about Mr. Wingfield in this scene? What about Jim reminds Amanda
    of her estranged husband?
5. What was Jim‟s nickname for Laura? Why did he give her this name? What feeling
   does the name convey?
6. Amanda has attempted to provide for Laura‟s future by enrolling her in the business
   college. Why is Amanda upset about Laura‟s failure in school? Why do you think that
   Amanda‟s efforts to assist her daughter have failed?
7. What alternative course does Amanda decide on for Laura‟s future? According to
    Laura, does this plan have any likelihood of success? Why? Do you agree or
    disagree with Laura? Why?
8. How can Amanda‟s behavior during the first part of this scene be characterized?
9. In this scene, Laura discusses the problem of her handicap with Amanda. How does
    Amanda deal emotionally with Laura‟s handicap? In what ways does Amanda
    suggest that Laura downplay her handicap?
10. In scenes 1 and 2, we learn about Laura‟s character. Describe Laura‟s physical and
     emotional handicaps. How does Laura try to avoid the unpleasant reality of
     Amanda‟s conversations? Into what illusion does Laura escape?

Scene 3
1. What has Amanda‟s obsession become? What does Amanda do about the
2. Scene 3 focuses on the argumentative nature of Tom and Amanda‟s relationship.
   What is the quarrel about? Are they the principal actors during this scene?
3. Why does Amanda believe that Tom is doing things he‟s ashamed of? Amanda calls
   Tom selfish. To what extent is Amanda‟s accusation fair? To what extent is it unfair?
   How does Tom respond to Amanda‟s assertion that he is jeopardizing the future?
4. Tom thinks his mother is making unfair demands of him. Do you believe this to be
   true? Why or why not? What do you think is the source of Tom‟s discontentment
   (identify reasons beyond the stated issues)?
5. Where does Tom escape after the argument with Amanda? What happens as Tom
   leaves for the movies?
6. The final moments of the scene show Tom picking up the pieces of glass, glancing at
   Laura as though he wants to say something. What do these actions reveal about
7. An observer of the Wingfield family may suggest that Tom and Amanda will not allow
   each other to create their own realities or at least illusions of reality. How is this
   statement true?
8. Tom‟s commentary at the outset of scene 3 is important to both the scene and to the
   play as a whole. Read both the stage directions and his monologue carefully. From
   where does Tom give his commentary about the events to occur in scene 3? What
   about this setting suggests or foreshadows Tom‟s decision to leave at the end of
   scene 3?
9. Tom‟s costumes are different as he narrates and as he plays himself in scene 3.

   What might his narrator‟s costume suggest/foreshadow about the outcome of the

Scene 4
1. When does Tom return from the movies? What does he tell Laura he has seen? Why
    does this intrigue Tom? Why would Tom need to perform this trick? From what
    “coffin” does Tom feel he needs to escape? Why? Who, besides the illusionist, has
    performed this amazing escape?
2. What happens on the fire escape when Amanda sends Laura for some butter? What
   significance is there in the description of Laura‟s coat?
3. Tom apologizes to Amanda for calling her a witch. How does Amanda respond?
    What does Amanda want to talk about with Tom?
4. Amanda‟s statements about instinct are ironic. Why?
5. What is Amanda most concerned about? What is Amanda‟s solution to this problem?
6. Reread the first four sentences of Tom‟s speech in which he identifies himself as an
   illusionist. Remember, Tom is telling us the story of his family in retrospect, so
   sometime between the events of scene 3 and the telling of the story, he has
   mastered the art of escaping and creating illusion. What forms of escape (retreats
   into illusion) do we learn that Tom has tried in scene 3? How does Amanda respond
   to his need to escape in each incident?
7. How might the tension in scene 3 foreshadow Tom‟s character development from a
   trapped Wingfield family member to narrator of the Wingfield family story.

Scene 5:
1. In what ways does Amanda see that Tom takes after his father? Why does Amanda
    want Tom to emulate his father? What does she urge Tom to do about his future?
2. How does Tom perceive the fire escape? What does he do when he stands on the
    fire escape?
3. How does Amanda view the fire escape? What does she see when she sits on the
    fire escape?
4. Tom guesses her wish and is able to grant it. What is the wish?
5. What is Amanda‟s response when Tom says he is bringing a young man home to
    dinner? How does Tom react to this? What do we find out about the gentleman caller
    in the next conversation between Tom and Amanda?
6. Amanda‟s “discreet inquiries” produce information. In dramatic terms, this is called
    exposition. But why is this scene dramatically satisfying and suspenseful even
    though it lacks action?
7. As Amanda begins to fuss and plan, what does Tom remind her about? Why does
    Tom leave abruptly for the movies? What does Amanda tell Laura to do?
8. Which of Amanda‟s character traits are revealed in her phone call to Ella Cartwright?
9. In scene 5, we learn that Laura serves as a mediator between Amanda and Tom. The
    chances are good that Laura typically assumes this role when tempers flare in the
    Wingfield household. Why might Amanda use Laura as her go-between with Tom? In
    what other circumstances does Amanda use Laura in her stead? Is Tom sincere in
    his apology to Amanda? What leads you to believe this?
10. For what reason does Amanda talk with Tom about Laura? How does Tom respond

   to this duty? Do you think this is an unreasonable demand on Tom? Why or why

Part II: The Gentleman Calls
Scene 6:
1. Why does Tom feel he is valuable to Jim? Why is Jim valuable to Tom?
2. Have Amanda‟s preparations for the dinner been successful?
3. How does Amanda dress for the gentleman caller?
4. Why does Laura dread the evening? Describe the way Laura answers the door.
5. What does Jim recommend for Tom? What does Jim tell Tom about his job? Is Tom
    concerned about this warning? Why?
6. What first step has Tom already taken?
7. With whom does Tom identify as he talks of his plans?
8. How do Tom and Jim respond to Amanda‟s entrance and chatter? Does everyone
   enjoy dinner?
9. Describe the political setting of the world that Tom alludes to at the beginning of
   scene 6. How is the Wingfield world in a similar condition?
10. What in St. Louis provides the pleasant escapes—“the brief, deceptive rainbows”—
    for the young people there?
11. Tom‟s statement that the “unsuspecting kids danced to „Dear One, the World is
    Waiting for the Sunrise‟” reiterates the unrealistically naïve hope that Amanda holds
    for a better day to come, the knight in shining armor, “the long delayed but always
    expected something that we live for”. His subsequent statement, “All the world was
    waiting for bombardments,” is the pessimistic view of a man disillusioned by the
    reality of life, that sunrise only gives way to sunset, that birth leads to death, that
    hope is never fulfilled, only wasted and spent. Analyze this scene in terms of
    modernism and the American dream/nightmare.
12. Typically, as scene 6 opens Amanda is criticizing Tom, this time for his smoking. For
     what purpose would Amanda rather Tom use his cigarette money?
13. What indications are there in this scene that the Wingfields have had a better life
    than they are currently subject to?
14. How is Amanda planning to alter their home for the gentleman caller? What feeling
     is she attempting to project about the Wingfield family?
15. In what ways does Amanda alter the description of the gentleman caller before he
     arrives on the scene? In what ways does Tom suggest reality to Amanda in regards
     to their gentleman caller?
16. This scene contains several comic lines and situations. Find examples of these and
     analyze how they relieve some of the rising tension.
17. Amanda gives us her very simple philosophy of life in response to Tom‟s patronizing
     remark, “Oh…Plans and provisions.” What is her philosophy?
18. What do we learn about Jim in this scene?

Scene 7:
1. What happens as they finish dinner? What lighting do they use instead?
2. What is Jim‟s first assessment of Laura? Does Jim recognize Laura?
3. How does Jim react to Laura‟s confession of her shyness and the reason she gives

    for it—the brace on her leg?
4. How is Jim discovering his own excellence?
5. What is Jim‟s view of democracy?
6. Why does Laura show Jim the unicorn? What happens to the unicorn and how does
   this function symbolically?
7. What is Jim‟s next step in curing Laura‟s inferiority complex? What happens as they
8. Jim calls himself a stumble-john as he realizes that Laura is overcome by the kiss.
    How does he recognize her reaction? As Jim forthrightly tells Laura about Betty and
    their marriage plans, how does Laura react?
9. What happens as Amanda and Tom enter with the lemonade?
10. What is the significance of Laura‟s gift to Jim?
11. What is Amanda‟s reaction to Jim‟s engagement?
12. Tom‟s final speech coincides with the silent scene played by Laura and Amanda.
     As he talks what happens on the stage? What is Tom‟s final realization?
13. Describe Jim in his high school days. Why was Tom important to Jim? What is Jim‟s
     nickname for Tom? Why does he give Tom this nickname?
14. What changes had Amanda made in the living room in preparation for the
     gentleman caller?
15. What union had Tom joined? Where has he gotten the money to pay for his dues?
16. In what ways are both Jim and Tom trying to change the direction of their lives?
17. By what means does Amanda try to charm Jim? Do you think she succeeds?
18. How does Amanda “promote” Laura to Jim as something other than what she really
     is? How is this her attempt to alter reality?
19. What class did Laura and Jim take together in high school? What two mementos
     from high school does Laura show Jim? What does he sign and why?
20. What do you consider the climax of the play? Why?
21. Why does Tom tell Laura to “blow out her candles”? What meaning about the past
     Does Williams suggest here?

Complete the following chart and respond to the questions that follow.

     Symbol             Character              Why used/What it represents








Jim’s Shadow

Pirates of

Fire Escape

Jolly Roger
(pirate ship)
Coffin trick



Blue Roses


Thunder &

1. In scene 2, Laura pretends to go to school, but she has been going to museums, bird
houses in the zoo, and to a glass house where they raise tropical flowers. What do
these places symbolize and Laura and her life?

2. In scene 3, Tom is upset with his mother and is attempting to get into his coat to
leave. In his haste, he breaks Laura‟s glass menagerie. What does the shattered glass

3. In scene 7, Amanda dresses for dinner in a youthful dress and carries a bunch of
jonquils. What do her appearance and the flowers symbolize?

4. Also in scene 7, Amanda forces Laura to open the door to receive the gentleman
caller. Laura tells her mother she can‟t because she‟s sick. What does opening the door
to the gentleman caller symbolize?

5. As Jim and Laura are dancing in scene 8, they bump the table holding Laura‟s
menagerie. The horn is broken off the unicorn. What does the unicorn, as well as the
broken unicorn symbolize?

Factors To Know
Be aware of the following elements in the play and jot down your notes of
analysis in the space provided.

The Fire Escape –

The Glass Menagerie –

The Unicorn –

Blue Roses –

Thunder –

Paradise Dance Hall –

The Father’s Picture –

Phonograph –

Gay Deceivers –

Rose Lampshade –

Memory Play –

The Coffin Trick –

Traps and Escapes
This is a dominant motif in the play. The characters are not only trapped by the “coffin”
apartment, but by life. The fire escape is an obvious symbol. In the chart below, analyze
the traps and escapes for each of the characters.

  Characters                      Traps                          Escapes
The Father (Mr.





A Poetic Parallel

An epigraph is a quotation set at the beginning of a literary work or a
division of it to suggest its theme. Williams placed the last line of the poem
below on the title page of The Glass Menagerie. Read and annotate the
poem carefully. Then, answer the questions that follow. Be prepared to
share and support your ideas with the class.

somewhere i have never traveled
e. e. cummings

somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look will easily unclose me                  5
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose
or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly                10
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,                15
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all the roses)
nobody, not even the rain has such small hands                     20

1. What similarities are there between the speaker (“i”) of the poem and Tom?

2. What similarities are there between the person spoken to (“you”) in the poem and

3. Explain what you think the last line of the poem means.

4. Give some reasons why you think Williams chose the last line as the epigraph of his
play. Consider how specific words relate to the play.

5. How might the title of the poem and the whole last stanza relate to the play?


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