Glengarry Glen Ross
by David Mamet
Glengarry Glen Ross Theme of Choices
ROMA: What I'm saying, what is our life? (Pause.) It's looking forward or it's looking back. And that's our life. (1.3.38-40)
That choice—to look forward or to look back—rests at the center of Glengarry Glen Ross. In Roma, we find a man who is always looking for the next sale, always on the prowl. In Levene, we find a man whose future is defined by his past, who can only see things in terms of getting back what he once had.
While there are certainly other choices that characters all make throughout the play, it's this one—to be forward focused or constantly glancing backward—that defines them.
Questions About Choices
- Why does Levene choose to rob the office? Why does Aaronow choose not to?
- Does Lingk have a choice when it comes to canceling the contract?
- Is there a choice Levene could have made—even after the robbery—that could have saved him from having to deal with the cops?
- Is there something about Lingk that makes Roma choose him as a target?
Chew on This
For all his talk, Moss isn't willing to make the hard choices. He is not willing to put himself on the line or to put in the work that it takes to go into business for himself.
There is no free will in this play, and all of the characters' choices are dictated by powers bigger than they are.