The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Scene.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a big long monologue.
"Across the alley from us was the Paradise Dance Hall. On evenings in the spring the windows and doors were open and the music came outdoors. Sometimes the lights were turned out except for a large glass sphere that hung from the ceiling. It would turn rather slowly about and filter the dusk with delicate rainbow colors. Then the orchestra would play a waltz or a tango, something that had a slow and sensuous rhythm. Couples would come outside, to the relative privacy of the alley. You would see them kissing behind ash pits and telephone poles. This was the compensation for lives that passed like mine, without any change or adventure. Adventure and change were imminent this year. They were waiting around the corner for all these kids. Suspended in the mist over Berchtesgaden, caught in the folds of Chamberlain’s umbrella. In Spain there was Guernica. But here there was only hot swing music and liquor, dance halls, bars, and movies, and sex that hung in the gloom like a chandelier and flooded the world with brief, deceptive rainbows…All the world was waiting for bombardments! (5.10, Tom).
Tom recognizes that many others, not just he himself, use dancing and movies as a means to escape the reality of their own lives.
"You and me, we’re not the warehouse type." (6.84, Jim).
Jim and Tom find camaraderie in their both wanting to escape.
"I’m planning to change." [He leans over the fire-escape rail, speaking with quiet exhilaration. The incandescent marquees and signs of the first-run movie houses light his face from across the alley. He looks like a voyager.] "I’m right at the point of committing myself to a future that doesn’t include the warehouse and Mr. Mendoza or even a night-school course in public speaking." (6.110, Tom, Scene Six stage directions).
Tom plots his escape well in advance; therefore his abandoning the family is a pre-meditated act, not something executed in the heat of an argument.