In The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, what do the lives of Jim and Laura have in common? During the evening they spent together in Scene Seven, did anything make you angry or sad?   

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jim O'Connor is a "nice, ordinary young man" who seems to be emblematic of the all-American boy. There is nothing particularly special about him, and he seems to have the exact same interests as any typical man of his age. However, it is his ordinary nature that makes Jim so interesting to the Wingfield family who is, by contrast, quite dysfunctional. 

Laura Wingfield, on the other hand, is reclusive and repressed. A young woman suffering from a slight physical disability (a limp she received from an injury as a child), Laura is unable to overcome her self-perceived "slight" and instead withdraws into her own head. She is extremely shy, sensitive, and emotionally fragile, which explains her refusal to attend business classes and her preference to stay isolated at home, kept company only by her magnificent collection of glass figurines. 

What ties Jim and Laura together is the fact that they went to the same high school. Back in those days, Jim was one of the most popular boys at school, a leader and active participant in extracurricular activities. Laura had always admired him from afar, although she has never had the courage to approach him, hampered by her self-consciousness. Although Jim is now an ordinary worker--and, in fact, hardly makes more money than her brother Tom--Laura still perceives him as a heroic figure who she can lavish shyly with admiration.

Only you can really assess your personal feelings as a response to Scene Seven, but I will share my experience of reading it: this scene broke my  heart. I relate to Laura, as I have suffered with chronic illness for almost my entire life, and it has served as a significant imposition in my relationships with other people. To see Laura tentatively opening herself up to Jim--only to have him kiss her and then reveal that he is already engaged--was incredibly sad. I also felt a mixture of melancholy and anger when Jim broke the unicorn figurine, which seemed symbolic of how close he was to breaking Laura's heart. However, like I said, this was only my experience, and the scene is subject to personal interpretation. 

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The Glass Menagerie

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