Study Guide

Jim O’Connor in The Glass Menagerie

By Tennessee Williams

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Jim O’Connor

Jim is ordinary. Seem simplistic? That’s what we thought, too, when we read the introduction and Williams only says "a nice, ordinary, young man." Not too much to work with, right? WRONG! Maybe old Williams missed it, but we think there’s more to Jim than being ordinary. Like what, you might ask? Read on, skeptical friend.

First of all, Jim is the only character to break through into Laura’s secret world. That’s pretty impressive. But what makes him so special, anyway? Well he’s pretty much the most sincere person in the play. He’s very honest, friendly, chipper – the man has freckles, for heaven’s sake. He’s completely trustworthy and, as such, we the audience get to trust him. Which is cool because, since Tom is the one telling the story, everything he says is a little biased; after all, he’s probably trying to convince us he’s not a total jerk at the end of the play. But back to Jim again.

We were totally in Jim’s corner until the whole engaged thing. Who goes around kissing girls when they’re engaged? It is interesting, though, the attitude that Jim takes towards the whole situation. At first we thought he was hitting on Laura, but then he kept talking about her self-confidence, and at one point says that he wishes she were his sister. Which means (hopefully) that his interest in her isn’t actually sexual or even romantic in nature. You know, aside from the kissing. Jim simply has an honest desire to help. But at the same time, he’s obviously very drawn to Laura – and yes, in a romantic sense. He admits this to her, poetically describing her beauty, how she makes him feel different than any other girl. And then he tries – and fails – to talk about his love for his fiancé. In discussing Betty, Jim is forced to resort to abstracts and exclamations, suggesting that what he has with Betty isn’t love at all. Poor Jim – such a nice, ordinary, young man.

Jim O’Connor in The Glass Menagerie Study Group

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