Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
by Tennessee Williams
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Page.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue. We used the New Directions edition of the play, published in 1971.
Are you through talkin' to me?
Why are you so anxious to shut me up?
Well, sir, every so often you say to me, Brick, I want to have a talk with you, but when we talk, it never materializes. Nothing is said. […] Communication is—aweful hard between people an'—somehow between you and me, it just don't— II.90
Almost worse than confronting truths through conversation and confrontation is the pain of trying to communicate -- and of coming to terms with the failure to do so. Brick and Big Daddy have a hard time talking because they are both so tied to their external identities and are not necessarily united by their love of self-reflection.
But this talk is like all the others we've ever had together in our lives! It's nowhere, nowhere!—it's—it's painful, Big Daddy…. (II.99)
Whereas families are often very content to exist within their habitual frameworks, the lack of effective communication is one habit that Brick cannot stand. Family gatherings involve traditions and memories, but Brick winces at these cyclical activities and longs for the means to grow and move, to push past the same old roles and conversations that define a family dynamic. He can no longer live in this cyclical way.
We talk, you talk, in—circles! We get no where, no where! It's always the same, you say you want to talk to me and don't have a ruttin' thing to say to me! (II.102)
Here Brick parses out the difference between saying something and saying something meaningful. Conversation can either carry the intent to maintain the status quo, or to move beyond, to learn new things, to point toward truths. Brick is already trapped in a kind of purgatory, and any conversation that helps him remain in that liminal (in-between) state is just devastating.