A dramatic metaphor in Tennessee Williams’s play 27 Wagons Full of Cotton might be the fire that burns down Silva Vicarro’s cotton gin. This fire plays a central role in the play. It’s the main reason why Jake and Flora fight in the first act. In the second act, it compels Vicarro to pay Jake and Flora visit, which leads to the relatively disturbing final act.
In the play, Jake does literally burn down and destroy Vicarro’s gin. But it’s hard not to think about how the destruction of the gin mill represents a different kind of destruction—mainly that of his wife Flora. The second act ends with Silva following Flora into her home. The third act starts with a description of Flora. Her hair is “disordered” and she’s mostly naked save for a “torn pink band about her breasts.” This description indicates that Flora has been raped by Vicarro. Jake’s jolly attitude demonstrates a lack of concern. He doesn’t care that his wife has probably been violated. He’s just happy to be back in business.
It’s also possible to argue that the burned-down mill is a metaphor for the play's fiery, madcap characters and mood. The fire couldn’t be controlled just as the characters themselves can’t be domesticated. They are too set in their ways to change. Even after her ordeal with Vicarro, Flora maintains her infantile disposition. It ends with her on a swing, reciting a lullaby