Study Guide

Brick Pollitt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

By Tennessee Williams

Brick Pollitt

Brick and the Ghost

Handsome, athletic, cool, always just a few steps ahead of everyone, Brick is the favorite of the family and is like the person we've always wanted to be. Upon graduating from college, he marries Maggie, becomes a professional football player, gets injured, and settles as a legendary sports announcer. Life couldn't be better for this guy, right? We know so many Bricks, all perfect and successful and living like gods on the sweet ambrosia of life.

Wrong. Brick is haunted. He is haunted to the point where all he can do is throw back drink after drink. We can't figure out whether Brick is more haunted by Skipper or by what Skipper represents to him. We just know that his love of Skipper is so big and important that we can't even make jokes about it. Brick is cool as a cucumber for most of the play until Big Daddy makes him talk about Skipper, at which points he erupts like Mount Vesuvius.

Brick is stuck. He can't move because he has broken his ankle trying to do what he used to do so well when he was a god, and he must rely on crutches to get around. He is broken. Without his crutches, he can't do much at all. He often stands in doorways, which strikes us as just a little bit funny. Instead of engaging in the family conversation, he sings. His one desire is to feel the click of peacefulness that comes from having just enough alcohol in his blood. He desires nothing else and lives in a desensitized and detached state.

Brick the Prince

And yet, Brick is society's crowned prince. He's lived the "right" way by going to college, joining a fraternity, playing for the right team, marrying a beautiful woman, and pursuing a career in sports. Look where the right way has gotten him. His attempt to jump the hurdles at his old high school seems strangely like an attempt to reclaim the days in which he knew who he was, in which he was accepted and lauded by society. As a result of his royalty, he is subject to the stringent societal codes and values that outlaw gay men, or which prevented him from following his true bliss with Skipper. His happiness is wrapped up in what others think of him.

By the time we meet him, Brick has seen the lies that have bred him, raised him, and sustained him. He sees how entangled he has become in lies. He realizes that his allegiance to these lies and societal codes caused him to hang up on Skipper upon hearing Skipper's confession, and, thus, caused him to expedite Skipper's death. Brick is, therefore, the killer of the one true thing in his life. He drinks to drown out the lies and to make life more bearable, we discover.

As the crowned prince, Brick represents the death of the Old South. He is the inheritor of his father's wealth, but he doesn't want this wealth and does not wish to add MiracleGrow to the family tree by having a baby. If the Pollitt family were a solar system, then Big Daddy would be the sun. Big Mama, Maggie, Gooper, and Mae would be big planets. The no-neck monsters, Doc Baugh, and the Reverend would be moons. Brick would be a foreign object, no longer adhering to the gravitational pull of the sun or to the laws of the cosmos. He is stuck between worlds and knows love in a way that no one else in the family does.

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