Even though The Glass Menagerie was based in the 1930’s, it is apparent that the family architecture and interactions could clearly represent today’s all American family. This play brings about the notion of abandonment, originally stemming from the father leaving his family and then Tom following in his footsteps. As with any family other issues derive from the fact that children mirror their parents and the mere fact that we cannot chose our family but we must find a way to make it all work.
The Glass Menagerie follows a trend of struggle with the fact that Amanda believes in the Southern way that men work and take care of their families. Even though her husband runs out on her, she does not lose faith that she will meet a gentleman that will indeed take care of her. In the mean time, Amanda’s son, Tom steps into fatherly role and supports the family. Tom too feels the abandonment and feels that he is missing out on his dreams and goals so he too leaves the family. This brings about anger and desperation from Amanda. She originally tries to shove the responsibility of Laura onto Tom in scene four.
Laura says, “I mean as soon as Laura has got somebody to take care of her, married, a home of her own, independent-why, then you will be free to go wherever you please, on land, on sea, whichever the wind blows you! ” She tries to forego the pain and dismiss Tom to leave before he decides on his own to abandon the family. In scene seven Amanda says, “GO, then! Go to the moon you selfish dreamer! ” as if she is letting him go before he has the opportunity to hurt her as her husband did. The fact that Amanda’s husband had left her drew her into creating obligations within the home and with her family to help her avoid reality.
The only person who was able to live in the reality of things was Jim. Laura retreated from reality with her glass ornaments and records the fact that she was crippled was an issue that was avoided. Tom mentions the he is aware of Laura’s retreat from reality in scene five. Tom says “She lives in a world of her own- a world of little glass ornaments. She plays, old phonograph records and that’s about all. Amanda battles with herself throughout the play because she wants her children to be something totally different then what they want.
Amanda looks into her past where she remembers herself as a Southern Belle who had many gentlemen who wanted to be in her presence. Amanda wants Laura to be the same as she was then. However, Amanda was a jonquil and as the play states, Laura was a blue rose. Laura was different. Laura is the “glass menagerie” per say and is fragile.
Tom, on the other hand, Laura believes is just like his father. In scene four Amanda says, “And you, when I see you taking after his ways! ” She is fearful that Tom has become his father. Amanda wants Laura to walk in her past shadow and Tom to avoid walking in his father’s.
Even though Tom does not abandon his family during the play, he mentions while he is narrating that he left a short time after Laura finds out that Jim is engaged. He had taken on the role of supporting the family and acting in a parental role when his father abandoned them. Tom left nothing to the imagination that he wanted to leave and to pursue his own dreams. He hated his job and his mother did not make things any easier for him. The fact that there was such turmoil between Tom, Laura and their mother is an indication that they present as the stereotypical American family in today’s world. Abandonment by family is nothing new in today’s society.
The statement that you cannot pick your family needs no explanation in regards to this play or in the typical American family. WORKS CITED Williams, Tennessee. “The Glass Menagerie. ” The American Tradition in Literature, Vol. 2.
Ed. Barbara Perkins and George Perkins. New York,: McGraw Hill, 2009, 1270-1313.