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Mitch laughs and continues through the portieres.Why did Williams put Mitch and the...

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tbaker2010 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 26, 2010 at 6:01 AM via web

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Mitch laughs and continues through the portieres.Why did Williams put Mitch and the girls on one side and men on the other of the curtains?

Please Note: This question is about the stage direction and effect of the 'portries' or curtains. This essay is about how Williams shows different types of conflict in scene three.

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parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted February 5, 2010 at 10:04 PM (Answer #1)

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Mitch first comes over to drink and play cards at the Kowalskis, but he is not, because of his breeding, "one of the boys."  Suggested throughout the play is that Mitch is more than a blue collar worker, with both education and manners. For example, Stanley and his other buddies tease Mitch because of his attachment to his mother and consider him too straight to know how to go out and have a good time.

When Mitch keeps Stanley and the other fellows waiting to open a game of cards because he has stepped into the next room to talk to Blanche, they are quite naturally irritated. Once again, Blanche's presence disrupts their habitual way of doing things. Perhaps they consider Mitch's evident interest in Blanche as a betrayal of loyalties as he "takes sides." (Suggested very strongly in the staging of this scene, the portières being the natural 'divider.')

Moreover, Stanley is intimidated because Blanche, the uninvited guest, has moved in on his turf and has taken not only physical but also psychological "territory" which once belonged to him. He just wants  Blanche to take her things and leave so that Stella and he can get on with their marriage the way it used to be. (At one point he even says this to Stella.) This incites him to tell Mitch about Blanche's past to dissuade him from taking a serious interest in her and to finally buy Blanche a one-way ticket back to Lauren as "a birthday present."

In the meantime, Stanley's strategy to downgrade Blanche works, since Mitch no longer considers her as a lady and "marriagable material" but simply as an easy lay. He has even shown up slovenly and unshaven, and the spectator sees a side to him unknown beforehand. When he tries to take her on just for sex, she is ready to scream "rape" but in Mitch's fallen estime of her, Blanche is only getting what she has asked for. Mitch has "taken sides" once more; however, this time he seems as coarse and macho as the rest of Stanley's gang. Blanche's aspirations for marrying Mitch go up in smoke, and her fate seems to be as rigidly vagrant and predestined as the streetcar dutifully following the tracks meandering around New Orleans.

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