What is your reaction to Tom's final speech in The Glass Menagerie, Scene Seven?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Tom's speech in the last scene of the drama brings out much of his hopes and much of his complexity.  Throughout out the play, Tom is this person who dreams of a life that is not his.  He envisions freedom as something that brings automatic results, something that will immediately make him happy because it is not his banal existence.  His leaving for good is a moment where he can recognize this and believes that this is the answer.  The final scene and the actions after the speech of him leaving compel him to believe that his freedom will bring about automatic change and results if he leaves.  It is at this moment that the complexity emerges.  While his speech reflects the embrace of a life that is not tied to the family and the banality of providing for them, it is also a reflection of what Tom has become.  Despite his protestations, Tom has become his father, abandoning a family that needs him.  This causes guilt, something that follows his pursuit of freedom like a bad shadow.  The last speech reflects that while freedom does represent change and hope, it can also carry with it guilt and regret.  This helps to make Tom's character extremely challenging and complex.

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