In The Glass Menagerie, how does self- deception, as Tom says, illustrate as "truth" about life?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To a great extent, Tom makes the argument that everyone engages in self- deception in order to get through life and being in the world.  This might be valid, but it also might be his own justification for his own self- deception.  If it is to be taken as valid, Amanda's own nostalgia for her past and the belief that she was "something" at one point in time as a way to dull the pain of the present would be one element that Tom would use.  At the same time, Laura's fascination with her glass figurines and the time she spends at the zoo could be seen as another way to advance her own self- deception.  Tom is not absolved from this as his desire to escape, spend time at the movies, and eventually leave his family in hopes of finding that elusive sense of "happiness" all reflect self- deception.  In the end, all of the family members, including Jim O'Connor, need deception to endure their own lives:

The inability of each character to function beyond a manufactured world is a direct result of self-deception. As the play ends, the outcome of each Wingfield is left in question. Tom aimlessly wanders the country, Laura is unable to leave the sheltered world that she has created for herself among her glass animals, and Amanda realizes that she has two adult children whom she has failed to bring into a functioning relationship with the world.

If there is a "truth" present, it is that the pain of being in the world is one in which self- deception is engaged in order to escape such a condition.

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The Glass Menagerie

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