The "sweet bird of youth" always flies away. This inevitable reality stands at the heart of Williams' play. Chance and the Princess each seek to deny what they see as the nearly fatal implications of time and aging.
The Princess fears that her career is over. She can no longer take care of herself or even face life without drugs. Chance has returned home to reclaim the woman (Heavenly) who symbolizes his first and last chance at achieving success.
This is just one layer of symbolism in a play that is heavy with symbols and double meanings. St. Cloud can be seen in its name to suggest that Chance and the Princess have already entered a state of death. However, they seek a new chance at life.
All the action takes place on Easter Sunday....Some critics believe that Chance Wayne has undergone a compacted reversal of the Easter cycle, beginning with Chance’s resurrection in the morning and castration (crucifixion) at night.
The symbolic significance of the date is quite important in the play and worth commenting on as the notion of renewal and the possibility of renewal are central themes of the work.
Renewal is Chance's aim and he is willing to risk everything to achieve it, willing to threaten the Princess, and willing to rish his own safety. However, Chance's desperation is matched by the reality of his history. The woman he has returned for feels she has been ruined.
‘‘Scudder’s knife cut the youth out of my body, made me an old childless woman. Dry, cold, empty, like an old woman.’’
Heavenly becomes a symbol for lost youth as well as a symbol for hope (for Chance). This complexity serves to emphasize the psychological nature of the play, which relates to the insecurities of actors and actresses (roles that can be seen as symbolic as well).
Another symbolic element in the play can be found in the Princess' drugs. She is dependent on them as a vehicle for her fantasy. Unable to face the notion that her career is over, she turns to drugs to keep reality at arms' length.
This denial of reality is shared by Chance. When she is given an opportunity to return to her successful career, only Chance is left in a situation of defeat and denial.
Aging and time are parts of life that cannot be avoided, but only Chance cannot accept that by the end of the play.
A desire to overturn history and find renewal connects the main characters in this play - desire for the impossible, for a symbolic life after death.