Is there any specific reason for Williams's giving Stanley a Polish background and not Italian or Kazakh, for example?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire is a drama that places the romantic charm and grace of the American South against the aggressive and more earthy blue-collar modern America.  Although the play originally was designed with an Italian family that later acquired an Irish brother-in-law, Tennessee Williams changed the characters to two Southern American belles and a Polish American man.  By doing so, he better emphasized the tremendous clash between cultures and classes with the genteel women and the brawling, earthy Polish man. in this story of "alcoholism, madness and sexual violence," the demarcations between cultures are clearly drawn by the use of a nationality not found in the early New Orleans, as the Italians were.  Instead, Stanley Kowalski is probably from the factories of the North; his culture lacks refinement whereas Italians of all classes do have more appreciation of the fine arts and style.  Indeed,the Polish stereotype is best suited for a character who is ignorant of the finer things in life.

As a stereotypical Polish man, Stanley would be unconcerned about dress and style; all things carnal would intrigue him.  Thus, Blanche's attempts to dress seductively, shading the room in a romantic glow, or criticizing his table manners would simply irritate Stanley, "What do you think you are? A pair of queens?" he petuantly asks the women.  Certainly, as an simplistic man, Stanley Kowalski woul be greatly irritated by Blanche's subterfuges and innuendoes.

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A Streetcar Named Desire

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