What is the detailed meaning of Blue Mountain in Tennessee Williams' play The Glass Menagerie?

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tamarakh's profile pic

Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Tennessee Williams' play The Glass Menagerie, Blue Mountain is a fictional Southern town in which Amanda, the mother in the story, grew up, and its name has significant symbolic meaning.

Mountains have multiple symbolic meanings. On the negative side, a mountain can represent something that is hard to reach or a person's isolation. In Williams' play, Amanda has suffered many disappointments and fallen from the status of a Southern Belle to the status of an impoverished mother abandoned by her husband. The color blue in the name Blue Mountain further represents and underscores Amanda's sorrows. Hence, one thing the mountain symbolizes is Amanda's feeling of isolation as she longs for her past. Her longings for her better past are evident from the opening scene when the audience is informed that almost daily she relays the story of the "Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain [that she] received seventeen gentleman callers!" (I.i.)

While mountains have their negative symbolism, on the positive side, they can also symbolize obstacles that need to be overcome and the need for mental, emotional, or spiritual rejuvenation. Such rejuvenation is considered possible on mountains because, since mountains stand at such high altitudes, climbing mountains can be seen as the closest mankind can come to reaching the face of God. Amanda must overcome the barrier of longing for her past so that she can be successful in the future. While, by the end of the play, Amanda's son, Tom, does abandon her like her husband did, Tom's abandonment of her and his sister, Laura, makes way for both Amanda and Laura to be forced to make improvements on their own. Laura's smile at her mother in the final scene at the beginning of Tom's closing speech symbolizes hope for a better future since both Amanda and Laura are finally able to let go of their past fears and sorrows and embrace a new future, a future without Tom, who only served as a handicap since they both desperately relied on him.

ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Blue Mountain is the place where Amanda grew up. She remembers is fondly each times she tells her children about the afternoon she entertained 17 gentlemen callers. It is also the place where she met and married her husband who "feel in love with long distance." The word "blue" also mirrors "blue roses", the term Jim used to call Laura. Just as "blue" roses did not exist at the time the play was written, the author may be suggesting that "Blue Mountain" did not really exist as Amanda remembers it. This would also reinforce the idea that, just a Tom's memories of the play may not be altogether accurate, Amanda's memories may also be somewhat illusionary.

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