In "The Glass Menagerie", how does the fantasy world help all three Wingflields escape their problems?

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parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Amanda's reminiscence helps her approach problems positively by focusing on success instead of failure. She is nostalgic about her youth without falling into melancholy about it; good memories indeed seem to cushion her against the hard knocks of both abandonment and financial precarity. As Laura tells her brother, Amanda takes a certain pleasure in retelling stories of jonquils and boyfriends and is just looking for a "captive audience." For her there is no disassociation between the past and the present.

Laura takes refuge from the present by listening to music on the victrola and playing with the crystal animals she has collected. Unlike Amanda, who is always looking for solutions to present problems, Laura seems to have unplugged from life and its challenges. She deals with stress by retreating into an imaginary world of her own where rejection or failure are not even possibile. This is pathological, however, because her constant daydreaming keeps her from dealing with probems at hand.

Unlike Laura, Tom is very aware of his present inertia and would do anything to get out of his "two-by-four" situation. Providing for Amanda and Laura obliges him to stay at home when he would really love to be a sailor, discovering new places and experiences. So he goes to the movies, reads novels and writes poetry. He smokes too much and sometimes even gets drunk. Losing his job helps him finally "take the fire escape" for the very last time.

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The Glass Menagerie

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