What is a good simple summary of The Glass Menagerie?Anything you find interesting in this play you would like to add; feel free!

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sorry, you only get to ask one question.  I assume your first question is the most important to you, so that's the one I'll answer.  The Glass Menagerieis the story of the Wingfields--mom, son, and daughter. 

Mom, Amanda, is a bit of a throwback to the old Southern belles who has "gentleman callers."  She has a good heart and only wants what's best for her children; she's also rather a nag and a bit of a bully.  Her husband left them years before, so she has worked to keep the family going.

Son, Tom, is stuck in a dead-end job at a shoe warehouse, but he's in love with adventure.  His dream is to join the merchant marines and travel the world.  Loves his mom and sister but wants out of his home situation in the worst way.  He also acts as narrator in this story.

Daughter, Laura, is almost unbearably shy.  She has a slight limp which she sees as a major impediment.  She loves listening to the Victrola and tending to her glass figurines (menagerie).

In short, after meeting these three characters, Amanda comes home quite distraught one day, after having discovered Laura has not been attending business college as she had led them all to believe. Laura explains she's just not cut out for this kind of thing (she got sick in front of everyone on her first day of class and never went back).  Amanda decides on a new plan--have Tom find Laura a nice boy and invite him over. Thus begins the plan to catch Laura a man. 

Tom brings home Jim, from work.  Tom has not told Jim of the ulterior motive--therefore, Jim had no reason to tell Tom he was already engaged.  The evening is made even more interesting when Amanda appears dressed as she would have been "back in the day"--and it's scary.  Laura is intimidated and can't even eat.

The "date" goes well in one sense, though.  Jim, who turns out to be the boy Laura adored in high school,  treats Laura as a "normal"girl.  He dances with her, he even gives her a kiss--and for one moment, anyway, we sense that Laura may be on the road to being someone new and different--a better, stronger self.

The next morning, early, Tom takes off with the merchant marines, which he has secretly joined.  We see, in his last narrative, that he is, indeed, traveling the world.  We also see Amanda comforting Laura as she cries.  Then Laura looks up at her, smiles, andblows out the candles in the candelabra.

As I'm writing this summary, I'm reminded of how much symbolism and richness is missed in this play, particularly, when all you hear is plot.  This is what happens; but the basic plot really doesn't reveal what any of it means, so I'm hopeful you'll be reading the play, as well.

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The Glass Menagerie

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