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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams-Book Notes
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THE STORY - SUMMARY AND NOTES

SCENE FIVE

Winter has surrendered to spring. The legend projected on the screen reads "Annunciation," suggesting that in this scene an announcement of some note will be made.

NOTE:

The "Annunciation" refers to the biblical account of the angel Gabriel's announcement to the Virgin Mary that she was to bear the son of God. The annunciation in this scene may not seem quite as momentous as the original, but to Amanda it is almost as important, as you will see. Also, the feast of the Annunciation is celebrated on March 25, so the legend on the screen helps to note the arrival of spring.

The months have not altered Amanda. She still badgers Tom and laments his lack of ambition. She's still hoping that Tom will settle down, and find contentment as a CPA. Tired of the nagging, Tom retreats to the fire escape, where, as narrator again, he addresses the audience.

He observes life outside the Wingfield apartment. Every evening, young couples used to come to the Paradise Dance Hall to while away hours dancing or kissing in the adjacent alley. That, Tom says, was their form of escape from dull, dreary lives.


Little did these young people know that change was approaching in the form of war. Many of them would be killed fighting the Nazis. But in their innocence, they danced to the music of "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise." As Tom comments, the wait was really for "bombardments."

NOTE:

Tom names people and places associated with the coming of World War II.

Berchtesgaden

Hitler's mountain headquarters.

Chamberlain

British prime minister blamed for failing to stop Hitler's march across Europe.

Guernica

a Spanish town destroyed by the fascists in 1937 and which became a symbol for atrocities against innocent people. Pablo Picasso's "Guernica" painting, depicting the horrors of war, is world famous.

On this warm spring evening Amanda joins Tom on the fire escape. While talking with Tom, she sounds much like a young girl flirting with a gentleman caller on the plantation porch. Tom uses the opportunity to give Amanda the news she's been wanting to hear for many months. He has invited a young man, Jim O'Connor, to dinner-tomorrow!

Amanda is ecstatic, of course, but also very businesslike, thinking of what has to be done to prepare for the guest. Her mind races through the list of chores: do the laundry, polish the silver, put up fresh curtains, plan the menu. She quizzes Tom about Jim's job, background, and looks. She wants to know especially if he drinks. Jim would not be right for Laura if he were a drinking man. Although she's just heard of the invitation, Amanda speaks of Jim as Laura's future husband, as a man with family responsibilities. Amanda has probably imagined this moment so often, has anticipated every detail of the courtship, that the news merely triggers the plan into action.

Tom tries to yank Amanda back to reality. He hasn't told Jim about Laura's existence. The invitation was casual, not couched in terms of "don't you want to meet my sister?" Furthermore, Tom reminds Amanda, Laura is not one to make an instant good impression. She's peculiar, living "in a world of her own-a world of little glass ornaments... She plays old phonograph records and-that's about all."

Tom's accurate description of Laura troubles Amanda. But it's only a temporary setback. She has too much invested in her illusion to be waylaid by the truth.

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