Given what is featured below, what reasons did Tennessee Williams have for wanting to escape reality?
Tennessee Williams: “At the age of fourteen I discovered writing as an escape from a world of reality in which I felt acutely uncomfortable. It immediately became my place of retreat, my cave, my refuge. From what? From being called a sissy by the neighbourhood kids, and Miss Nancy by my father, because I would rather read books... than play marbles and baseball and other normal kid games, a results of a severe childhood illness and of excessive attachment to the female members of my family, who had coaxed me back into life.”
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Before even attempting an answer here, allow me to say what a great quote this is. Williams' genius as a writer is evident in his recollections about his childhood. I think that some of it was edited out, reflecting some of its disjointed nature, but that aside, it is a beautiful quote that reflects with a sense of power and pure authenticity the greatness and sadness that is Tennessee Williams.
The desire for Williams' escape from reality is the curse of being seen as different in a world that praises homogeneity. Williams brings this out in the quote at different occasions. The two defining issues in his background are evident in the quote. The label of "sissy" or "Miss Nancy" is reflective of how Williams was seen as different. The latter is a reflection of Williams' tormented relationship with his father, one that was predicated in neither one being able to fully understand or acknowledge the other. The fact that Williams' homosexuality feelings were recognized at this time and the rebuke such a reality faced socially was also evident. The sting of this social condition, one of which where there is constant animosity and tension, as well as personal neglect from his father are realities in which a "cave" or a "refuge" is necessitated.
The other element in the quote that is critical is how Williams was able to create an "excessive attachment to the female members" in his family, women that "coaxed me back into life." Williams' identification with women, a group already silenced by society of the time, is significant. Given his attachment to his sister, the quote is even more poignant. Williams did not let his negative relationships with the world and his father make him misanthropic. Rather, they helped him to expand his scope of compassion, needing more than ever "a refuge." Williams' presents his desire to write as a way to transform reality from what it is to what it can or should be. In this, writing became a "refuge" from reality, a "cave" through which the painful horrors of cruelty and malevolence in the real world can be escaped.
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