Study Guide

A Streetcar Named Desire Scene Five

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Scene Five

  • The scene opens with Blanche sitting in the bedroom, fanning herself and reading a letter. Stella enters.
  • Blanche laughs and explains that she’s reading over her letter to Shep, in which she pretends her life is hunky-dory and full of fancy cocktail parties and the like.
  • From upstairs we hear the sounds of Eunice and Steve fighting. Eunice is accusing her husband of carrying on with another girl. Steve strikes her, and she yells that she’ll call the police.
  • Eunice runs downstairs and offstage.
  • Stanley arrives home and asks about all the ruckus. Stella informs him that Eunice went to the Four Deuces to have a drink.
  • Steve then clamors into the downstairs apartment with a big bruise on his head. He inquires after Eunice and then rushes off to the Four Deuces to find her.
  • Blanche tries to banter with Stanley while he makes himself comfortable at home, which involves lots of banging around. Blanche winces at every noise he makes.
  • Then, she predicts he’s an Aries (as in his astrological sign), since he’s so loud and aggressive.
  • Stella tells her he was born after Christmas, so Blanche cheerily announces he’s a Goat (Capricorn).
  • Stanley then asks Blanche her sign, and she announces that she’s a Virgo, the Virgin.
  • He scoffs at this. (Ouch!) Then he asks if she knows someone named Shaw.
  • Blanche tries to hide her shock as Stanley explains that a guy he knows, Shaw, heard of Blanche in Laurel (the town where she taught and used to live) at a place called Flamingo Hotel.
  • Blanche casually remarks that he must have her mixed up with someone else, as the Flamingo is a seedy joint and she wouldn’t be caught dead there.
  • Sure, says Stanley, he’ll just have Shaw check and clear up the mix-up the next time he visits Laurel.
  • Blanche turns white.
  • Outside, Steve and Eunice are returning home, wrapped in each other’s arms and cooing sweet nothings of love.
  • Stanley heads out to the Four Deuces to get a drink himself.
  • Blanche immediately turns to Stella, asking if she’s heard any gossip about her and what she was doing in Laurel. Blanche admits that she “wasn’t so good the last two years or so.”
  • Blanche explains that she was never “hard” or “self-sufficient,” and that people like her who are “soft” have to “glow” to compensate. You have to be both soft and attractive, she says, and now that her looks are fading she’s in trouble.
  • Stella brings her sister a coke, which seems to cheer her up. Blanche wants a shot in it, so Stella heads to the kitchen.
  • Blanche thanks her and admits that she loves being waited on.
  • Then, she becomes suddenly sentimental, clasping Stella’s hand and promising that she won’t stay and be a burden to them much longer.
  • Stella begins to pour the coke into a glass, which foams over and spills a bit on Blanche’s skirt. Blanche overreacts, screaming shrilly. She’s clearly on edge.
  • While cleaning her skirt, Blanche shifts the topic of conversation to Mitch. He’s coming over at seven. She explains that she’s kept their relationship from getting physical, not allowing him more than a good-night’s kiss.
  • She’s worried about this balancing act, though—if she keeps him waiting too long he might lose interest, but, on the other hand, if she gives in too quickly he’ll have no reason to continue pursuing her.
  • Her age (“over thirty” is all she says) is another problem, since she hasn’t told him how old she is yet. She wants to “deceive him enough to make him want [her].”
  • Stella asks a particularly important question: does Blanche want Mitch?
  • She wants to rest, she answers, so yes, she wants Mitch. If she marries him, she’ll be taken care of.
  • Stanley comes around the corner bellowing for his wife to join him at the bar. Stella kisses Blanche and cheerfully insists that things will work out with Mitch. Then she runs off to join her husband, leaving Blanche alone.
  • Right about then, a conveniently placed Young Man comes around to the door, taking up payment for The Evening Star paper.
  • Blanche invites him in for a drink, but he refuses, as he can’t drink on the job.
  • Blanche explains that she has no money to give him, as she’s not the lady of the house, just a visiting relative.
  • The Young Man thanks her and tries to leave, but Blanche tries to keep him there. She asks for a light.
  • He lights her cigarette and again tries to leave, but Blanche stalls for more time, asking him inane questions like what time it is and doesn’t he love the weather like this and what did he do earlier when it rained? And what kind of soda did he drink in the afternoon?
  • The point is that the whole exchange ends with Blanche saying, “You make my mouth water!” and stroking his cheek.
  • The poor kid is at this point definitely trying to leave (and all the while trying to be polite), when Blanche compliments his looks and says that she wants to kiss him, “just once, softly and sweetly, on [the] mouth.”
  • The Young Man, probably figuring this is the only way she’ll let him leave, complies. Blanche kisses him and then tells him to run off, since she’s “got to be good—and keep [her] hands off children.”
  • Just after the Young Man leaves, Mitch arrives with flowers for Blanche. She greets him gaily.

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