The Glass Menagerie Scene 3-4 Summary

As scene three opens Tom is again acting as the narrator. He explains that after Amanda discovers Laura's struggles at business school, finding her daughter a husband becomes a sort of fixation. Despite the fact that it is making Laura extremely uncomfortable Amanda peruses her obsession with vigor. Realizing that the appearance of the apartment will need to improve if Laura is to have gentlemen callers, Amanda decides to get a job so that she can fund her endeavor. She takes a telephone job selling subscriptions of The Home-maker's Companion. Amanda's charm is obvious as she attempts to have a women from her Daughters of the Revolution group to renew her subscription. However, the other woman's dinner begins to burn, and she hangs up on Amanda.

In the next cut Tom and Amanda are embroiled in a terrible argument. Williams' stage direction indicates that the argument was probably started when Amanda interrupted Tom's writing. Tom is also deeply annoyed that, despite providing for the family, his mother still treats him like a child. Most recently she has confiscated a novel he was reading by "that insane Mr. Lawrence" (perhaps a reference to something by D.H. Lawrence who was considered quite scandalous at the time the play was written). Amanda is not only upset that Tom has been reading books that she considers "evil," but that he goes out several nights a week and returns intoxicated. She is infuriated that he would risk his job with his drunken behavior. While he is upset that he works a job that he absolutely loathes to the point of wishing he were dead sometimes, and gets no appreciation for it. Sick of the argument Tom announces that he's going out, and his mother asks where he is going. When Tom tells her he is going to see a movie she tells him that she doesn't believe his lies. Sarcastically, Tom tells her that she is right, that he is visiting opium dens and brothels, and that he has joined a gang. Towards the end of his rant, Tom grows quite mean. He pokes fun of the story his mother often tells about her "seventeen suitors", and calls her and ugly babbling old bitch.

As Tom attempts to storm out of the apartment he hurls his coat across the room in frustration. It hits Laura's collection of glass animals and knocks them over, audibly breaking some of them. Laura shrieks in horror. Amanda doesn't notice her daughter's pain because she is so distracted by her own. She tells Tom she won't speak to him until he apologizes. Tom stoops, and collects the pieces of glass while looking at Laura apologetically.

When scene four opens Tom is stumbling home drunk as church bells strike five in the morning. Laura is sleeping at home on the couch, hears him on the fire escape, and lets him in. She is concerned by his condition and asks where he has been all this time, Tom tells her she has been at the movies. Laura is incredulous that he could have been at the movies the entire time he was gone. Tom tells her that it was a long display, involving a Garbo movie, an episode of Mickey Mouse, a travelogue, and a newsreel, along with a preview of coming attractions. He says that he also watched a magic show, and that the magician was able to free himself from a nailed coffin without removing a single nail. Tom gives Laura a rainbow scarf the magician gave him as a souvenir. In his excitement Tom is very loud, Laura hushes him and tells him that he will wake up their mother. Tom seems to like this idea, and says that it would be retribution for all of his mother's "rise and shine" wakeup calls.

The scene fades, and the clocks strike six. From the wings Amanda starts calling rise and shine, only an after Tom has gone to sleep. Tom drags himself out of bed to work another day at the warehouse. Laura is sent to tell Tom is coffee is ready, and while she is in his room she begs him to apologize to their mother. Tom refuses, because it was his mother who initiated their mutual silence, and she hasn't yet apologized to him. Meanwhile, Amanda is calling out to Laura from the kitchen asking her to go charge some butter from the store. Laura protests, saying that they always make faces when she asks for credit. Laura rushes out the door and startles the rest of the family when she trips and shrieks, but she assures them that she is unharmed, just startled.

Tom enters the kitchen for breakfast. When he attempts to drink his coffee he finds it scalding hot, and immediately spits it back into the mug. Amanda is startled by the sounds, and starts to look back at Tom, but looks back at the window. Tom breaks the silence between them by apologizing and telling her that he didn't mean anything he said to her. Amanda seems to have a difficult time accepting his apology with an open heart. She tells Tom that she has suffered and struggled for he and Laura, but that she feels unappreciated by them. Amanda tells her son that he cannot fail, and warns him that without him, she cannot keep the family together. However, she believes in his potential to succeed, and the thought of her children being successful that she becomes sentimental just talking about it. She makes Tom promise to never become a drunkard.

Amanda also expresses her fears. She tells Tom that Laura is deeply concerned for him. Amanda says that she worries that the fact that Tom goes out every night is a sign that he is unhappy. Tom explains that he goes to the movies because he likes adventure, and his work at the warehouse doesn't provide him with any. Amanda tells Tom that they need to discuss Laura, and making provisions for her, because she is older than Tom and hasn't found a husband or been successful working. She then tells Tom that she knows that if Laura is taken care of he will leave and do whatever he likes "just like" his father. Tom attempts to leave, saying that he's late for work, but Amanda continues pestering him about finding a suitor for his sister as he is on his way out. He begrudgingly agrees.

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