How does Laura provide conflict for her brother, Tom?The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Tom is emotionally tied to Laura as his sister; in addition, because she is crippled,  Tom realizes that Laura and his mother will be in dire financial need without his continuing to work and support them.

Besides this sense of responsibility toward his sister, Tom also feels some guilt about involving Laura indirectly in the conflicts he has with his mother, Amanda.  For instance, in scene three, Tom and his mother argue after Amanda has thrown away his D.H.Lawrence novel, declaring it as smut.  Their argument continues when Tom says that he is going to the movies as Amanda implies that Tom will be like his father and he may lose his job because he stays out so late.  Fuming, Tom storms out of the apartment after calling his mother "an ugly-babbling old--witch."  This argument upsets Laura so badly that she begs Tom to apologize to his mother; the tension in the family is unbearable for the sensitive Laura.  So while he really does not wish to apologize, Tom acquiesces to the wishes of his sister.

In another instance, Laura unwittingly makes for conflict with Tom because she has no marital prospects.  As previously mentioned, Tom feels a financial responsibility toward her, but Amanda also makes him feel a social/familial responsibility of trying to find her a husband by asking him to bring home "a gentleman caller" for Laura.  After his attempts to do so fail since Jim is already engaged, Tom runs out on the family; however, he still feels emotionally tied to them.

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The Glass Menagerie

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