In A Streetcar Named Desire, what does Blanche mean by "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers"?

Blanche says "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," she means that she expects to be treated with respect and honor because she is a Southern, upper-class White woman. However, the quote also demonstrates that she has disassociated from reality.

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This phrase is a gentile way of suggesting that the "stranger" she is addressing will take care of her, and the unsaid, ambiguous implication is that she will be "grateful" for such care.

The phrase is significant for several reasons. For instance, Blanche says this in the middle of a psychotic episode to a mental health worker who is leading her away, so the "whoever you are" part is telling, because she has dissociated from reality. The part about "relying on the kindness of strangers" is ironic as well. Have strangers been kind to Blanche?

The true significance of the phrase, however, is its importance to Blanche's conception of herself, in terms of class, race, and gender. Blanche sees herself as a Southern belle—someone who should be cared for, tended to, who should be treated by men with gallantry. The phrase suggests that "strangers"—strange men—will perceive her upper-class status and react to her with respect. Implicit in this conception of self is her identity as a white...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 895 words.)

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