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The fire escape functions as a poetic symbol. The themes of escape and escapism are very prominent in this play, most obviously with the character of Tom, perhaps, in his repeatedly stated wish to leave his stifling, poverty-stricken home life. Laura and Amanda also seek escape in their own ways: Laura in the fantasy world represented by her glass menagerie, and Amanda in her memories of her happier youth. The fire escape plays on this notion, and the playwright also explicitly comments on it in the very first scene as being aptly named, as the inhabitants of the apartments which it serves 'are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation'.
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