In The Glass Menagerie, what is the role of Laura?

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sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shy and delicate, Tom’s sister Laura wears a brace on her leg. Separated from the world of reality by her disposition, her mother’s demands, her and handicap, she becomes ill even at the thought of social interaction. Instead, she lives in the world of her imagination, which is represented by her glass menagerie of little animals. The fact that her favorite is a unicorn, an imaginary animal and often associated with sexual fantasies, intensifies our sense of her dream world. She is important to the play in that she provides a conflict for her brother, who must work a job he loathes in order to care for her, and she is also important for depicting the effects of living a life of dreams.  Tom, too, sparks up his life with dreams rather than doing things, and the mother lives in her own dream world as well, imagining beaus for poor Laura, who never does adjust to reality and in fact becomes more remote from it as the play proceeds. Follow the links to a fuller discussion of Laura and her relation to different themes in the play.