Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
by Tennessee Williams
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Mortality 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.
I been quiet here lately, spoke not a word, just sat and stared into space. I had something heavy weighing on my mind but tonight that load was took off me. That's why I'm talking.--the sky looks diff'rent to me.... (II.616-619)
Big Daddy can't stop talking about his new-found appreciation for life. The world is transformed before his very eyes, and things like the sky look different to him (though that's not surprising since the sky changes colors more often than an everlasting gobstopper in this play). Big Daddy is very scared of dying. He isn't ready, perhaps because he hasn't found "life everlasting" yet on earth.
When you are gone from here, boy, you are long gone and no where! [...] Yep. I thought I had it. The earth shook under my foot, the sky come down like the black lid of a kettle and I couldn't breathe!--Today!!--that lid was lifted, I drew my first free breath in--how many years?--God!--three.... (II.862-871)
It's just a little bit weird that, in a play where things are dying left and right, no one speculates as to what happens after you die. Even the reverend, the spiritual man, and the man that we would usually turn to for guidance in through hard times, is about as shallow as a kiddie pool. He talks about air conditioners and fancy stained glass windows, but that's about all. Here, we catch a glimpse of Big Daddy's understanding of what happens when you die, and it is depressingly bleak. Big Daddy believes nothing happens when you die. You are simply "no where." No wonder everyone's clamoring to stay alive.
Ignorance—of mortality—is a comfort. A man don't have that comfort, he's the only living thing that conceives of death, that knows what it is. The others go without knowing which is the way that anything living should go, go without knowing, without knowledge of it […] (II.91)
Big Daddy is obsessed with death. He cripples mentally when trying to understand or cope with his mortality. He fears death and the unknowns it heralds. He is not a man of faith or religion. He lives in the here-and-now and is obsessed with wealth.