Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
by Tennessee Williams
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Visions of America 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 can't stand TV, radio was bad enough but TV has gone it one better, I mean […] – one worse, ha ha! (II.66.90-91)
If the radio connects humans through sound, the TV connects humans through sound and image. Big Mama finds both objects to be negative. Both are tools of society, bringing people together and allowing them to comment on each other. In this way, the radio and TV also aid in the mendacity inherent in society.
I made this place! I was overseer on it! I was the overseer on the old Straw and Ochello plantation. I quit school at ten! I quit school at ten years old and went to work like a ______ in the fields. And I rose to become overseer of the Straw and Ochello plantation. And old Straw died and I was Ochello's partner and the place got bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger! II.77
Big Daddy recharts his rags-to-riches story, but this time, he reveals his racism and he positions himself in relation to those he works with in the fields. Because of his privileges as a white man, he is able to move up the societal ladder, to live the American Dream. In this way, we see an exclusivity inherent to the American Dream, and we see perhaps how racism has infected even that Dream. Here, we also see more directly how the wealth and success of the Pollitt family is built upon racism and mendacity.
I said 'Hold on!'—I bummed, I bummed this country till I was—
Slept in hobo jungles and railroad Y's and flophouses in all cities before I—
I seen all things and understood a lot of them, till 1910. Christ, the year that—I had worn my shoes through, hocked my—I hopped off a yellow dog freight car half a mile down the road, slept in a wagon of cotton outside the gin—Jack Straw an' Peter Ochello took me in. Hired me to manager this place which grew into this one—When Jack Straw died—why, old Peter Ochello wuit eatin' like a dog does when its master's dad, and died too!" (II.115-117)
Here, Big Daddy traces his "rags to riches" story, a story that looks a lot like the prototype of the American Dream. He hangs around railyards, stays in boarding houses, and keeps moving until he finds—thanks to the generosity of the plantation's owners—a steady job and a home on a plantation. He works hard until he becomes the owner of the land.