The Glass Menagerie
From plot debriefs to key motifs, Thug Notes’ The Glass Menagerie Summary & Analysis has you covered with themes, symbols, important quotes, and more.
The Glass Menagerie (1944) | Written by: Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie – Thug Notes Summary & Analysis
Sup fam? This week on Thug Notes we bringing ALL the boys to the yard with The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. Our narrator Tom give us the low down that errything we bout to peep on this stage is a memory of his, and that his daddy skipped town long ago leavin his mama Amanda and sister Laura cashed out on the struggle. So now Tom gotta be da breadwinner.
It’s grubbin time in da Wingfield crib where Amanda like “Laura! you best keep dat a** TIGHT to make sure da boys holler!” Mama buggin that Laura gonna be single forever, but Laura don’t ‘spect any bruthas to show up wantin to woo her, since she got a busted-a** foot and always actin’ shy. Amanda start runnin her mouth bout how she was SO fine back in the day that she had 17 bustas in ONE AFTERNOON tryna’ get a crack at dat ghetto booty. Amanda say she could’ve bagged a rich playboy but she chose their scrub-ass daddy instead.
Later, Laura makin’ sho her glass collection shine when mama gets all turnt sayin “Laura! Why ain’t you been goin to dat school I paid for?” Apparently, Laura been duckin out and walkin round bird houses n’ s***. Amanda bout HAD IT when she like: “Girl. Has there EVER been a brutha you wanted a piece of?” “Yeah there was this FLY playa named Jim back in high school who used to call me blue roses.” But Jim was too happenin’ to kick it wit Laura. Couple months later, Amanda getting all in Tom’s grill when he snap and say “Woman! Stop riding my nuts tryna control me! I’m the one bringin home da bread!” Tom peace out to the movies, but mama say he prolly doin somethin scandalous. Brutha call her a witch and bails.
Next morning, Tom apologizes for bein a dick and say he go to the movies cuz he jonezin for a life of adventure. Mama say “boy get yo head outta yo a**. We gotta make plans for Laura. Hook her up with one of them warehous boys you work with.” So later Tom tell mama he got a dude named O’Connor drippin’ by. Amanda lose her shit tryna prep and Tom say “Chill. He don’t know bout Laura. I mean, real talk- she crippled and spend all day with her glass animals.” Next night, Tom strat talkin about dat boy Jim who Laura used to have the hots for. Dude was BALLIN’- he had mad hoop skillz, was the president of erry damn club, and could even drop some ill rhymes! But things sho do change; cuz now he grindin away at the same broke-a** job as Tom.
Amanda stuffs Laura’s bra so dem tittays look fine, then she drop the big news: the cat droppin by is JIM. Laura wig out so hard dat when the boys arrive, Laura chokes and gotta dip out to another room. Jim and Tom chill and conversate bout the warehouse. Apparently, Tom bout to get the boot, but he already got plans to join the Merchant Seaman’s Union. Matta fact, he signed up using the cheddar we was s’posed to pay the electric bill with.
Amanda busts in jabberin AGAIN Bout how all the bruthas wanted her back then. It’s all sippin n’ chowin til BAM- da lights go out. They spark some candles and Amanda tells Jim to po up a glass of wine for Laura. Jim start throwin game at Laura, callin her an old fashioned type of girl and sayinm he never noticed her janky leg back in high school. Laura talkin bout school and her glass collection when Jim say “girl- you so fly and you don’t even know it. You just need some confidence!” Then Laura show him her favorite thang- a glass unicorn. Jim hear somebody drop some fresh beats nearby so he ask Laura to dance. They bringin it on the dance floor when CRASH- dat Unicorn get busted.
Brutha thinkin’ he gotta build her confidence, so he kiss her but then immediately recognize he dun f***ed up- cuz turns out, he’s getting married next month. Damn. Laura gives him the broken unicorn as a souvenir. Gee, thanks. When Amanda comes in, Jim say “Yo. gotta bounce. I’m engaged. Thanks for dinner and the unicorn though.” Amanda just about s***s herself and start gettin’ crunk on Tom: sayin he made em look like fools bringin hom an engaged man, and dat he ain’t nuthin but a selfish a**hole whose head always in the clouds. Tom chunks deuces outta dat trap to get his adventure on. But no matta’ how far he go, he always thinkin of his po’ sister.
This play is a choice example of what my boy T-Will call “Plastic theater.” In da PT game, errything on stage- I’m talkin props, sounds, music, lighting- reppin’ the things goin on inside the chracters domes. And in The Glass Menagerie, all dat mess showin how da Wingfield family’s dreams ain’t jivin with reality. See, erry member of this crew got some fantasy world that they livin’ in. Laura spend her dayz chillin wit her glass menagerie- creating a place where she ain’t gotta deal with all dem real life hassles- her mama always doggin her, bein shy, buggin out at school, I could go on playa. And Williams, gettin on his plastic theater jam, describe the reality of Laura’s situtation by comparing her to dat glass. Just peep this stage direction, B: “A fragile, unearthly prettiness has come outin Laura: she is like a piece of translucent glass touched by light, given a momentary radiance, not actual, not lasting.”
But dat glass colelction ain’t da only thing reppin Laura. Laura called “Blue Roses” cuz she IS a blue rose: she mad sensitive, always feelin’ blue and got a unique kinda beauty that you don’t usually find in the hood. Dat beezy Amanda always livin in the past- when she was a sexy southern belle who could get any brutha with just one twerk. Now she a single mom who got burned by some lil b**** and is now livin a bleak life. Dat disparity between life in her mind and life on the real makin her act a damn fool: like when her wrinkly a** wear a dress made for young hoochies.
Tom dream bout writing and livin’ an adventurous lifestyle sicne grindin’ at the warehouse is hella weak. Boy talk smack to his mama, and even boost cash from the family just to add flavor to his own game. Even though he peaced out to live da high life- surprise surprise – sometimes you dreams get s*** on by reality. Boy’s future become just as bunk as his past. “…I was pursued by something…all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes. Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!” Jim was top dawg in high school but now he a low-level scrub bustin his a** at a warehouse. But even he livin in a world of bulls***- sayin he takin public speaking courses that gonna shoot him to the top. Psh. Boy please.
The only way these cats can escape the prison of their real lives is to lie to themselves, over and over til it stick. T-Will slangin’ repetition all up in this text to make dat point. Amanda always talkin bout some flower called “jonquils” to bring her back to the good ol days of perky tittays and rich horndogs hollerin’. “So lovely, that country in May…literally flooded with jonquils! That was the summer I had the craze for jonquils. Jonquils became anabsolute obsession. Mother said, “Honey, there’s no more room for jonquils.” And still I kept on bringing in more jonquils. Whenever, wherever I saw them, I’d say, “Stop! Stop! I see jonquils!” I made the young men help me gather the jonquils! It was a joke, Amanda and her jonquils! Finally there were no more vases to hold them, every available space was filled with jonquils.”
Tom keep droppin da words “mvoies” and “move” to show he itchin to escape. This type of flow is a special kind of repetition called polyptoton, when you repeat words that got the same roots. “Yes, movies! Look at them— You know what happens? People go to the movies instead of moving! …I’m tired of the movies and I am about to move!” It sho do suck a fat one when you recognize that yo life ain’t neva gonna be the fantasy in you head. The hard truth is that for the Amandas, Toms, and Lauras of the world, sometimes there ain’t nothin better you can do than put reality to the side and escape to Cloud 9. You thanks for keepin it 100 with me. Catch yall next time. Peace!