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This scene opens late afternoon in mid-September at the Kowalski place, which is decked out for a birthday party. Stella puts the finishing touches on the decorations as Stanley walks in.
She explains that the celebration is for Blanche’s birthday party. Stanley mocks Blanche, who is in the bathroom soaking in a hot tub to sooth her nerves. (He finds this, and her, completely ridiculous.)
While the sound of Blanche’s singing rises from the bathroom, Stanley sits his wife down and informs her that he’s found out the truth about her sister. A guy he knows—a supply-man—passes through Laurel from time to time and knows all about the goings-on there. He’s informed Stanley of Blanche’s past.
As it turns out, she moved to the Flamingo Hotel after she lost Belle Reve, the family plantation. There, her behavior was so inappropriate—even for a seedy place like the Flamingo—that they made her turn in her key and leave. (The implication is that Blanche was entertaining too many male guests.)
Also, there was a general rumor that she was mentally unstable. She was practically evicted from the town, which is how she ended up here in New Orleans.
And here’s the kicker: Blanche was fired from her teaching job after having an affair with one of her seventeen-year-old students. (Remember when Blanche said to herself that she needed to be good and keep her hands off children?)
Blanche pokes her head out of the bathroom and asks Stella to bring her another towel, which she does.
Stella returns to the conversation with her husband. She doesn’t believe any of this, she says. She explains to him about Blanche’s first husband and what happened to him, blaming Blanche’s current condition on this disturbing turn of events.
Stella lights the candles on the birthday cake and mentions that Mitch is coming over. Stanley counters that Mitch will likely not be in attendance, seeing as he’d passed on all this information about Blanche to the guy.
Stella is upset, but Stanley argues that Mitch is his friend and he can’t let him get trapped by a woman like that. There’s no way he’ll marry her now, Stanley says. Mitch isn’t through with Blanche completely, but he’s certainly “wised up.”
Then Stanley tells his wife that he bought Blanche a bus ticket to go home. After this little announcement, he bellows at Blanche to get out of the bathroom so he can use it already.
Blanche comes out and Stanley exits to the bathroom, leaving her alone with Stella.
Blanche can tell something wrong, but Stella doesn’t say anything about all that she’s just heard.