Study Guide

The Glass Menagerie Duty

By Tennessee Williams

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In The Glass Menagerie, duty and responsibility largely arise from family. The play examines the conflict between one’s obligations and one’s real desires, suggesting that being true to one may necessitate abandonment of the other. We also see that duties are gender specific, and arise largely from the expectations of societal norms.

Questions About Duty

  1. Amanda says Tom's being selfish. Tom says he's a slave for his family. Chances are, one of them is wrong. But which one? Or are we the ones who are wrong, because somehow both are true?
  2. Amanda keeps insisting that a lot of different people have to do a lot of different things. She's taskmaster extraordinaire. So, what exactly does she expect of Tom, of herself, of Laura, of her husband? And where did she get these expectations from?
  3. If Tom can't get over leaving Laura, even after many years, is he still in a way responsible to his family, still bound by duties in his mind? How so?

Chew on This

Amanda's expectations of Tom are unfair, because she puts all the familial responsibility on his shoulders.

Although Amanda demands a lot of Tom; her expectations of Laura are more unreasonable.

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