What is the significance of Tom's abandoning Laura and Amanda in "The Glass Managerie"?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tom has followed in his father's footsteps by adandoning Amanda and Laura.  As the sole breadwinner in the family, Tom's leaving has left his mother and sister literally and figuratively in the dark.  They have no source of income, and apparently will have to change in order to survive.

Up to this point in their lives, both Amanda and Laura, have been able to remain in their neatly defined worlds.  Amanda, in the past, and Laura in a world of glass.

Amanda will have to step up and find a way to survive financially.  Tennessee Williams does not give the reader any information about how Amanda and her two children survived after Mr. Wingfield left them.  So Amanda definitely has the instincts required to get through this difficult time.

Laura, after her experience with Jim, may be ready to venture outside her world of glass, and find a job in the real world.

Tom is going to be deeply affected by his leaving for the rest of his life.  He feels like a failure, having left his mother and sister just like his father did before him.  Tom is particularly haunted by the thought of his sister. 

Each of the three characters will be changed be Tom's actions. 


lit24 | Student

"Oh Laura, Laura,I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be."

Physically, Tom has run away from home, from his domineering mother and insecure sister. The  irony is that Tom is not aware that Laure has emeged stronger than ever after the "fiasco" of Jim's visit-which had acually been arranged by Tom himself. Although Jim did not marry Laura he taught her a very important lesson-self confidence- which would stand her in good stead for the rest of her life. Laura, although crippled would be able to face life without depending on any one else.

Emotionally, Tom is absolutely faithful to her-although separated from her for the rest of his life and no matter in which part of the world he is he can never forget her:"The window is filled with pieces of colored glass, tiny transparent bottles in delicate colors, like bits of a shattered rainbow. Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes." He will always remember her and treasure the precious memories of her just like Laura took care of her 'glass menagerie.'

Physically Tom follows  in "his fathers's footsteps" and flees from home. However, we will  never know whether Tom's vagrant father faithfully treasures the memories of his family life like Tom does.

Read the study guide:
The Glass Menagerie

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