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.
That Europe is nothin' on earth but a great big auction, that's all it is, that bunch of old worn-out places, it's just a big firesale, the whole ruttin'thing […] (II.86.531-533)
Big Daddy's summation of Europe (a continent whose history of western civilization extends much farther back into time than that of America's) as one big auction, whose goods he dutifully bought for his wife, enhances the crumbling antiquity at the heart of the Pollitt household.
Something's left out of that story. What did you leave out?
You!— dug the grave of your friend and kicked him in it!—
Before you'd face the truth with him!
His truth, not mine!
His truth, okay! But you wouldn't face it with him!
Who can face truth? Can you? (II.124.1354-1374)
Big Daddy points here to the big problem with memory: it's so easy to leave out important details when telling a story and the storyteller can edit the story.
Tonight Brick looks like he used to look when he was a little boy, just like he did when he played wild games and used to come home all sweaty and pink-cheeked and sleepy, with his—red curls shining…. (III.156.589-594)
The Pollitt Plantation is presented as a kind of intact and false Utopian vestige of the Old South. Drunk on this false Utopia, Big Mama gets stuck in her memories too of Brick as a little a boy. She remembers very superficial details about his appearance and his manner, but does not offer more concrete stories of her relationship with him. In this way, we are reminded that Brick has been raised by a family and society that loves him for his appearance and athletic ability.