What conflicts does Tennessee Williams develop in the first three scenes of The Glass Menagerie? Think about internal and external conflicts.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Williams sets up most of the conflicts that will carry themselves throughout the drama in the first three scenes.  Tom, as a character, is representative of several conflicts.  There is the conflict between Tom and his family, established in the first scene when it is apparent that Tom is no longer a part of his family.  At the same time, there seems to be a note of melancholy within his reverie, indicating a certain estrangement and conflict within himself.  Another conflict is present within the manner in which Williams describes the neighborhood in which the Wingfields live, a suburban sprawl where "one interfused mass of automatism" is indicative of a conflict between individuals fighting for their own identity against this expansive conformity.  Within the family, it is apparent that Tom and Amanda do battle on nearly every point.  Amanda, herself, is conflicted within the familial situation she presides over now and the woman she once was.  A debutante and center of attention then is contrasted with someone who presides over fragmentation now.  Tom is established as someone who is also conflicted between his dreams of escape and the pull of the need to support his family.  This helps to bring out how miserable he is in his own life, providing another level of internal conflict.

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The Glass Menagerie

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