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MonkeyNotes-A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
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Scene 8

Summary

At dusk, forty-five minutes after the previous scene, the three are having a dismal supper. Stella is sad and embarrassed while Stanley looks sullen. Blanche's face carries a plastered smile as she tries to make light of the situation. She is truly puzzled about Mitch's absence and tries to joke about it; Stella responds feebly, and Stanley ignores her.

When Stanley displays bad table manners, Stella scolds him for it. She then calls him a pig and asks him to wash up and help her clear the table. In a typical display of violence, he reacts by flinging crockery on the floor. He makes it very clear that he is the lord and master of the house and will not tolerate being insulted. Stella begins to cry, and Stanley goes out on the porch.

Since nobody will enlighten Blanche about Mitch, she phones him herself, but he is out. She leaves him a message and awaits his call. Stella, still upset, goes out to join Stanley. He tries to comfort her and says that everything will become normal after Blanche's departure and the baby's arrival.

Blanche is overwhelmed that Stanley is gracious enough to give her a birthday gift; but she is in for a rude shock. With cruelty, Stanley presents her with the bus ticket to Laurel. Blanche tries to smile or laugh, but gives up the attempt as sickness and nausea envelops her. Stella accuses Stanley of intentionally hurting Blanche and demands an explanation. He says that they used to be happily married, and then Blanche had appeared and spoiled it all for them. Stella defends her, saying that Blanche is "tender and trusting." Stanley scoffs, and again claims that she has been the thorn in their marital relationship. As he raves on about Blanche, a blind look comes over Stella's face. It is obvious that she is not feeling well, and Stanley takes her to the hospital. The Varsouviana, the polka music that plays off and on in Blanche's mind when she is reminded of her husband, is heard in the background with increasing rapidity.


Notes

This scene again shows Stanley's violence. Ironically, the violence occurs at Blanche's birthday party, which should have been a celebration. Blanche anxiously awaits Mitch's arrival, but Stanley and Stella know he will not now show up; neither of them, however, is brave enough to explain his absence to Blanche. As a result, there is a great deal of tension between the three of them. When Stella calls Stanley a pig, he explodes, throwing his dishes on the floor and calling himself king of the household. In this scene, it becomes obvious that Blanche truly is a disruption to the marriage of Stella and Stanley. Stanley cannot tolerate her presence, and treats her cruelly, as evidenced by the presentation of the bus ticket for a birthday present. The more Stanley criticizes Blanche, the more Stella feels compelled to defend her sister. She tries to explain that Blanche was once tender and trusting, but she changed because people abused her. She tries to evoke some sympathy in Stanley, but he has none.

The Varsouviana music highlights the entrapment that Blanche is feeling during the chapter. When Mitch fails to come to her birthday party, she senses something is terribly wrong and worries that she may not be able to obtain the future she so wants. When Blanche receives the bus tickets from Stanley, she realizes his cruelty and tries to laugh it off; instead, she feels totally nauseous. Appropriately, the polka music starts playing lightly in the background. By the end of the chapter when Stella is rushed to the hospital, the Varsouviana is playing loudly. The music is an indication that Blanche is on the verge of a total mental breakdown.

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