In The Glass Menagerie, family means obligations. This play raises questions of duty and responsibility to your other family members, and for the most part in gender specific roles. We see that it is the job of the male to bring home money, and the daughter to look pretty and get married. This also features the notion of abandonment, as a father leaves the family behind. There is also the notion of children taking after their parents; Tom leaves the family just as his father did, and Amanda wishes her daughter were as popular as she used to be. We see fighting between mother and son over both trivial matters, such as dinner etiquette, and larger issues, such as work and life goals. Lastly, this play examines the relationship between sister and brother, as Tom feels both protective and later guilty with regards to his sister Laura.
Despite the exaggerated nature of their situation and the hyperbole of their dialogue, actions, and interactions, the Wingfield family in many ways represents the stereotypical American family.
Although Amanda projects her own dreams onto her daughter and son, she is overall a positive force in the lives of her children.
Although Amanda has good intentions, she ends up being a destructive force in the lives of her children.