The Glass MenageriePlot Overview The Glass Menagerie is a memory play, and its action is drawn from the memories of the narrator, Tom Wingfield. Tom is also a character in the play, which is set in St. Louis in 1937. He is an aspiring poet who toils in a shoe warehouse to support his mother, Amanda, and sister, Laura. Mr.
Wingfield, Tom and Laura's father, ran off years ago and, save for one postcard, has not been heard from since. Amanda, originally from a genteel Southern family, regales her children frequently with tales of her idyllic youth and the scores of suitors she once received. She is disappointed that Laura, who wears a brace on her leg and is painfully shy, does not attract any gentleman callers.
She enrolls Laura in a business college, hoping that she will make her own and the family's fortune through a business career. Weeks later, however, Amanda discovers that Laura's crippling shyness has led her to drop out of the class secretly and spend her days wandering the city alone. Amanda then decides that Laura's last hope must lie in marriage and begins selling newspaper subscriptions to earn the extra money she believes will help to attract suitors for her daughter.
Meanwhile, Tom loathes his warehouse job and finds escape in liquor, movies, and literature, much to his mother's chagrin. During one of the frequent arguments between mother and son, Tom accidentally breaks several of the glass animal figurines that are Laura's most prized possessions. Amanda and Tom discuss Laura's prospects, and Amanda asks Tom to keep an eye out for likely young men at the warehouse. Tom selects Jim O'Connor, a casual friend, and invites him to dinner. Amanda quizzes Tom about Jim and is delighted to learn that he is a driven young man with his mind set on career advancement.
She proceeds to prepare an elaborate dinner and insists that Laura wear a new dress. At the last minute, Laura learns the name of her caller, and it turns out that she had a devastating crush on Jim in high school. When Jim arrives, she answers the door, on Amanda's orders, and then quickly disappears, leaving Tom and Jim alone. Tom confides to Jim that he has used the money for his family's electric bill to join the merchant marine and plans to leave his job and family in search of adventure. Laura refuses to eat dinner with the others, feigning illness.
Amanda, wearing an ostentatious dress from her glamorous youth, talks vivaciously with Jim throughout the meal. As dinner is ending, the lights go out as a consequence.