Blanche declares, "I never was hard or self-sufficient enough. When people are soft—soft people have got to shimmer and glow—they've got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings, and put a—paper lantern over the light. . . . It isn't enough to be soft. You've got to be soft and attractive. And I—I'm fading now! I don't know how much longer I can turn the trick." Given what you know of the ending of A Streetcar Named Desire, what is Blanche referring to by "turn the trick"? What is the significance of the "paper lantern" in this passage?

Given what know about the end of the play, Blanche is referring to prostitution when she says she doesn't know how much longer she can "turn a trick" for. Turning a trick means finding a client willing to pay for sex. The paper lantern refers to the way Blanche puts softly colored paper over lamps in the apartment to obscure the light so that she can looks younger. In a double, symbolic meaning, it also refers to how she has been obscuring the truth about how she earns a living.

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"Turn the trick" is a double entendre, meaning it has two meanings. The surface meaning is that Blanche realizes she is aging. This makes it more difficult for her to "turn the trick" of presenting herself as delicate, alluring, and charming to men. It is important to her to attract...

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"Turn the trick" is a double entendre, meaning it has two meanings. The surface meaning is that Blanche realizes she is aging. This makes it more difficult for her to "turn the trick" of presenting herself as delicate, alluring, and charming to men. It is important to her to attract male help because she believes she is too soft, weak, and dependent to make it on her own.

The alternative meaning, given what Stanley finds out near the end of the play, is that Blanche is getting too old to "turn a trick" as a prostitute. Turning a trick in this context means snaring a customer willing to pay for sex. If she cannot earn an income as a sex worker, it is all the more imperative for her to snare a husband. She is willing to move down the class ladder to do this.

There is a double significance, too, to the idea of putting a paper lantern over the light. On a physical level, Blanche needs to soften the lamp light in the apartment so that her age is obscured. She doesn't want her emerging wrinkles to show; she wishes to look younger than she is. On a different level, putting a paper lantern over the light refers to obscuring the harsh truth about how she was making her living before she arrived in New Orleans.

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