Study Guide

A Streetcar Named Desire Scene Eleven

By Tennessee Williams

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Scene Eleven

  • Several weeks later at the Kowalskis’ place, Stella packs a suitcase of Blanche’s things. From the sound of running water, we surmise that Blanche is in the bathroom. Stanly, Steve, Mitch, and Pablo are all sitting around the table playing poker. Stella looks like she’s been crying. Eunice comes downstairs from above and enters the flat.
  • The men are loud and rowdy at their poker table. Stanley is winning and bragging about it; Mitch looks like he has a hernia.
  • Eunice walks by the poker table and over to Stella, informing her that the baby is sleeping just fine. Then, she asks about Blanche.
  • Stella explains that they told Blanche they have made arrangements for her to rest in the country, and that Blanche has it mixed up in her mind with her delusion regarding Shep Huntleigh.
  • Blanche opens the door from the bathroom, pokes her head out, and tells Stella that if anyone calls for her she should take a message. Then she asks for Stella to find her yellow satin dress and some violets for her to pin on the lapel of a jacket. She closes the door again.
  • Stella expresses doubt and guilt to Eunice; she’s not sure if she’s done the right thing. Then again, she says, she “couldn’t believe [Blanche’s] story and go on living with Stanley.”
  • Eunice agrees, telling Stella to never believe it and just go on living her life.
  • Blanche finally comes out of the bathroom in her red silk robe, accompanied by the rising sound of the polka music. She asks Stella if she’s received any calls, and is surprised to hear that none have come.
  • From the other side of the curtain, Mitch hears Blanche’s voice and loses his focus at the card table. Stanley yells for him to pay attention.
  • Blanche hears the sound of Stanley’s voice yelling and is shocked. She gets a bit hysterical, demanding to know from Stella and Eunice just what’s going on.
  • At the poker table, Stanley hears her hysterics and starts to stand up—but Steve places a restraining arm on his shoulder and keeps him sitting down.
  • Blanche wants to know what’s wrong. She asks if she looks okay, and the two women assure her she looks wonderful. They start talking about her vacation, which calms Blanche down. She has them help her get dressed quickly, so she can escape this “trap.”
  • Blanche is eager to leave once dressed, but she doesn’t want to pass by the table of men playing poker. Stella convinces her to sit down and wait until the game is over.
  • While she waits, Blanche looks at the grapes which Eunice brought her and muses on their being unwashed. “You know what I shall die of?” she says. “I shall die of eating an unwashed grape one day out on the ocean.” She continues this fantasy, which involves a handsome ship’s doctor with a big silver watch.
  • The sound of the chiming cathedral bells booms out. While Blanche talks, a Matron and Doctor appear around the corner and are now climbing the steps to the Kowalskis’. The Doctor rings the doorbell, and Eunice goes to answer it.
  • She returns and cheerily announces to Blanche that a gentleman is here to call on her. Blanche wants to know if it’s the man from Dallas, and Eunice affirms that it is.
  • The women help Blanche collect her things, and then escort her past the card table. The men all stand around awkwardly, but Mitch stays seated and won’t look up at her.
  • When they get to the doorway, Blanche is shocked to see that the Doctor is in fact not Shep Huntleigh. She turns around and heads back into the flat and towards the bedroom.
  • Stanley gets up from the poker table and moves as though to block her path back into bedroom. He asks if she forgot something, and she answers “shrilly” that yes, she has. Then she runs past him and into the bedroom.
  • The polka music gets louder and more distorted, and “lurid reflections appear on the walls in odd, sinuous shapes.”
  • The Doctor sends the Matron in to get Blanche. Stanley asks her what she forgot, but she doesn’t answer and asks to be left alone.
  • He asks her if she wants the paper lantern, then tears it off the light bulb and holds it out to her. Blanche cries out. The Matron steps toward her, and the men rush to assist in the struggle.
  • Stella can’t bear to watch and runs out to the porch where Eunice is still waiting. She begs for Eunice to help her and not let them hurt her sister. Eunice comforts her and insists that they are all doing the right thing.
  • Inside, Mitch throws a punch at Stanley. When Stanley pushes him back, Mitch collapses, crying at the table.
  • Meanwhile, the Matron has apprehended Blanche. She asks the Doctor if they should put her in a jacket.
  • The Doctor seems understand what’s going on and doesn’t think that will be necessary. He takes off his hat and moves toward Blanche, speaking softly to her. This calms her down. He addresses her as “Miss DuBois” and extends his arm to her as an escort.
  • Blanche is pleased and stops struggling. She takes his arm and allows herself to be walked to the door of the flat. “Whoever you are,” she says, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” The Doctor leads her out the door and down the street.
  • From the porch, Stella calls after her sister by name, but Blanche never turns around.
  • Once the Doctor, Matron, and Blanche have disappeared around the corner, Eunice brings Stella’s baby over to her and places it in her arms. Stella is sobbing, but takes the child.
  • Inside, the other men have re-seated themselves at the poker table, but Stanley heads out to the porch. He tries to comfort his sobbing wife, and moves his hand toward the opening of her blouse.
  • Inside, Steve announces the next game as seven-card stud.

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