What are the similarities between Tom and his father in The Glass Menagerie?  

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major similarity between Tom and his father is that Tom, like his father would like to leave his family. Amanda, his mother, suggests a number of ways in which his habits remind her of his father, but it is his hope to get out of the house and the city that mostly resembles his father. On the other hand, Tom is a thoughtful young man who writes poetry and reads D.H. Lawrence, which gives him an air of sensitivity that his father does not seem to have had. Tom has a sense of duty to his family as well, evidence by his agreement to bring his friend Jim to the house to meet Laura. The fact that Tom is bound by his family, like his father was, does not necessarily mean the reader should draw a moral equivalence between the two. It was his father's desire to break this bond that shackled Tom to his dysfunctional family. On the other hand, Tom is willing to make his escape, which he must have known would throw his family into turmoil, and indeed, he does leave at the end of the play. Presumably unlike his father, he has a few regrets, especially about abandoning his disabled sister:

I descended the steps of this fire escape for a last time and followed, from then on, in my father’s footsteps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space. . . . I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something. . . . I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is sold. 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. Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!

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The Glass Menagerie

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