Study Guide

A Streetcar Named Desire Scene Eight

By Tennessee Williams

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Scene Eight

  • Almost an hour later, dusk has fallen. Blanche, Stella, and Stanley sit dismally around the table, still waiting for Mitch.
  • Blanche tries to laugh off the embarrassment of being stood up. She tells a rather lame joke regarding a parrot and a priest.
  • Stanley doesn’t laugh, and instead eats his dinner with his bare hands. Stella remarks rather coldly that he’s making a pig of himself, and then orders him to clean himself up and help her clear the table.
  • This sends Stanley off the deep end. He smashes his plate to the ground and yells that that is how he’s going to clear the table. He tells Stella never to order him around again. She and Blanche have been calling him “disgusting” and “Polack” ever since Blanche arrived, and he’d like to remind these two queens that this is his house and he is the king. Or something like that.
  • Stella starts to cry as he heads out to the porch.
  • Blanche realizes that something must have gone down while she was bathing earlier. Stella refuses to answer, so Blanche rushes to the phone to call Mitch and see what Stanley’s been saying about her.
  • Meanwhile, Stella rushes out to the porch and scolds Stanley for making Blanche so upset. She’s crying, so he takes her in his arms and tries to comfort her. He explains that everything is going to be all right once Blanche leaves. He’s particularly looking forward to being able to make all the noise they want in bed at night, “with nobody’s sister behind the curtains to hear us!”
  • When Stanley and Stella come back in, Blanche is cooing over the pretty candles on the birthday cake. She comments on the baby Stella is soon to have and hopes that his eyes will shine like two bright candles.
  • Stanley mocks her poetic language.
  • When Blanche refers to him as a "Polack," he corrects her. “People from Poland are Poles, not Polacks,” he says, “but what I am is one hundred percent American.”
  • The phone rings. Blanche thinks it’s Mitch calling for her, but Stanley insists on answering it himself.
  • It’s one of his bowling buddies; Stanley makes plans with him over the phone.
  • When he returns to the table, he tells Blanche he has a birthday present for her.
  • She’s excited.
  • Except, the present turns out to be a bus ticket back to Laurel. Naturally, this upsets her. Not only is he kicking her out, but now he expects her to ride a bus, like a commoner or something.
  • The polka music in Blanche’s head is heard again. She runs to the bathroom and we hear her gagging and choking.
  • Stella accosts her husband. “You didn’t know Blanche as a girl,” she says. “Nobody, nobody, was tender and trusting as she was. But people like you abused her, and forced her to change.”
  • Stanley leaves, changes into his bowling shirt, and comes back.
  • Stella tells him that he is most certainly not leaving to go bowling now and grabs him, asking why he was so cruel to her sister.
  • Stanley goes off a mini-tirade. Things were great between them before Blanche showed up, he says. Stella came along and showed him a picture of the beautiful plantation she used to live in with the big white columns. And then he “pulled [her] down off them columns” and she loved it, and she was crazy about him. And then Blanche ruined everything.
  • Stella doesn’t respond. Then, she looks at her husband and tells him he’d better take her to the hospital.
  • (In other words, it’s baby time.)

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