Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
by Tennessee Williams
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Memory and the Past 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.
[…] Look, Maggie. What you're doing is a dangerous thing to do. You're—you're—you're—foolin' with something that—nobody ought to fool with. (I.55.934-935)
While Brick warns Maggie not to touch something as sacred as his relationship with Skipper, Brick also warns her not to tell any stories about Skipper, not to remember the past. He calls the act of remembering "dangerous," and reminds us that in conceiving of the past, Maggie is also the editor and the storyteller. As such, her memory of the past may not be the exact truth, and Brick's memory of Skipper may not be the exact truth. As audience and readers, we must be content with never knowing fully what has gone on between Brick and Skipper, and we are compelled to focus our interest on what Brick and Maggie do with their memories of Skipper, rather than examining the memories themselves.
I'm not naming it dirty! I am naming it clean. (I.58.991)
By invoking her memory of Skipper, by articulating Brick and Skipper's love, Maggie hopes to purify it and make it real. However, doing so involves telling the story of her love from her own perspective, which may not be the most successful way to honor and purify their relationship.
Why, half that stuff she bought is still crated up in the cellar, under water last spring! (II.86.527-529)
Big Daddy's memories of his trip to Europe and the corruption he found there (in the form of wealthy priests, starving children, and child prostitutes) form the foundation of the Pollitt household. Mementos from the trip are molding in boxes in the cellar. In this way, the Pollitt plantation is haunted not only by the horrors of the Old South, but also by horrors elsewhere in the world.