Tennessee Williams wrote this one-act play in 1946, but he deliberately choses to set it some sixteen years earlier, in 1930. It is a play concerned with a very particular place in time and location. The action of the play takes place in the cotton fields of Mississippi and reflects various values and attitudes that make it slightly uncomfortable to watch today, particularly as regards the relationship between men and women and the fact that it is the Latino character in the play who is cast in the role of villain.
For the men in the play, women are little more than playthings. Mr. Meighan works the land and believes he is entitled to his wife's body in return. Meanwhile, Silva, the Latino character, struggles with a world that does not see him as equal to the white men around him. For Mrs. Meighan, it is difficult to understand what she can do to make her husband think better of her: she craves his approval, but she cannot make her own place in the world and she cannot seem to do anything right for him, except when she is doing exactly what he is telling her to do.
Presumably, the behavior of the characters in the play had begun to seem dated even by the time it was written in 1946. Williams is writing about a world that had already, by that short time afterwards, disappeared into the past in some ways.