Sweet Bird of Youth

by Tennessee Williams
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In act 1, scene 1 of Sweet Bird of Youth, why does Princess's memory return when she looks out the window and at the scenery?

The Princess's suppressed memories return when she looks out the window and at the scenery. In "Sweet Bird of Youth", why does Chance tell Minnie Fay to look out the window? A) And what does this action do for the play? B) As is made apparent in the opening scene of the play, Princess Alexandra Del Lago has quite a lot of such memories and is understandably keen to make sure that she never has to experience them again. So she spends most of her life in self-induced periods of amnesia, which allows her to forget whatever emotional trauma she last experienced. As the play opens, Princess Alexandra Del Lago is in the middle of one such bout of convenient forgetfulness.

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As is made apparent in the opening scene of the play, the Princess has the remarkable ability to block out unpleasant memories. A hopeless drunk and has been movie star, Miss Alexandra Del Lago, as she's also known, has quite a lot of such memories and is understandably keen to...

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As is made apparent in the opening scene of the play, the Princess has the remarkable ability to block out unpleasant memories. A hopeless drunk and has been movie star, Miss Alexandra Del Lago, as she's also known, has quite a lot of such memories and is understandably keen to make sure that she never has to experience them again. So she spends most of her life in self-induced periods of amnesia, which allows her to forget whatever emotional trauma she last experienced.

As the play opens, the Princess is in the middle of one such bout of convenient forgetfulness. She's fleeing from some, as yet unknown, major disaster. This time, her memory is so shot to pieces—not helped by copious amounts of drink and drugs—that she claims not to recognize her young lover Chance, and asks him if he's a male nurse.

Gradually, Chance pieces together recent events, telling the Princess how they both met. After Chance goes on to say how he was arrested by something in his hometown of St. Cloud, the Princess's suppressed memories start flooding back. Gazing at the ocean from out of the hotel window, she suddenly remembers something that she didn't want to: the end of her "goddamn life." For some reason—we're not actually told why—the scene of the beach and the ocean triggers the Princess's memories of her very public humiliation at the screening of what was supposed to be her big comeback movie.

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