Tennessee Williams characterizes Boss Finley as an egocentric bully who cares more about power and politics than about his family. While his daughter Heavenly has long been the primary victim of his emotional abuse, including preventing her marriage, his son Tom Junior also suffers from his father’s narrow-minded, autocratic worldview and behaviors. Finley feigns concern for his children, but his real preoccupation is to avoid any gossip and scandal that might damage his political career. Tom goes from being the agent of his father’s schemes to directing a violent reprisal against his sister’s former lover.
Tom Junior epitomizes arrested development. The senior Tom’s domination of his son has been responsible for the younger Tom entering politics, but also for preventing him from becoming an independent, mature adult; He must retain a backseat position in relation to his father rather than strike out on his own. His father has placed him on the ticket and made him the head of a youth organization that supports the campaign. Tom’s frustrations have contributed to his low self-esteem and correspondingly erratic behavior. Ostensibly acting out of the desire to avenge his sister, Tom takes the lead in challenging and then, as the play concludes, attacking Chance.