How is Blanche similar and different  to her sister Stella?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One similarity between Blanche and Stella is their background.  Both of them grew up and experienced their youth in the "old South" and this imprint is on both of their characters.  How they deal with it, of course, is where the difference might lie.  Blanche revels in this past, demonstrating an inability to fully grasp how the function in the present.  It is in this context that Blanche tries to battle with the present, even asserting herself against it, but eventually failing and becoming victim to it.  Stella is much different, possessing what Blanche would marvel at as "self control."  She is much more practical in understanding that there is not much of a debate between the past and the present.  Human survival rests with the latter.  Yet, she does show much of her own emotional compass in expressing a certain regret for her actions regarding Blanche's institutionalization.  While she is very practical about things and does what must be done for her welfare and that of the child she carries, Stella does understand that there is some part of her past, some aspect of that imprint, that still lingers in her and haunts her.  Perhaps she does not carry the imprint in the way Blanche does, who was "too rare to be normal," as Williams would put it.  Yet, it is there, that rareness, that abnormality beneath the sheen of normal conventionality that is a part of Stella's emotional DNA.

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A Streetcar Named Desire

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