In The Glass Menagerie, gender roles play a large part in dictating the future plans of each character. Laura must get married because she is a girl; Tom should take business classes because he is a man. Gender roles seem to arise from tradition, as Amanda discusses what women should do and what men should do according to her Southern upbringing. Gender roles also dictate values, or how women and men are judged differently. Amanda places great importance on Laura’s staying ‘fresh and pretty,’ while she believes that ‘character’ is the most important thing for a man.
Although they resist the roles prescribed to them, Laura and Tom both eventually assimilate to the gender stereotypes cast by their mother.