What is the symbol of the searchlight in A Streetcar Named Desire?
Blanche: "I’d suddenly said--“I saw! I know! You disgust me” And then the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light that’s stronger than this - kitchen - candle…"
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I think that the issue of light is a larger element in the statement. Blanche is a character who is afraid of light. The idea of light, illumination, is something that would tear away at her like a razor because it would highlight all of her falsehoods, as transparency would reveal her to be something that she wishes not to be. In the quote that describes her husband's suicide, the light that was "turned off" represented her need to recreate her identity, to embrace that which could be constructed with as little "light" or truth as "this - kitchen - candle." Blanche was profoundly impacted by her closeted husband's suicide. The idea of a "closeted" husband brings the light issue back into even more relevancy. The death of her husband brought with it a need to recreate a facade and state of being that could only exist in supposition and shadows, something that would not be able to withstand the white, hot glare of modern scrutiny. The "searchlight" was the last light of this world that would damage Blanche's own attempt at creation. From that point on, from the death of her husband, Blanche felt that the creation of her own persona was vitally important, something that could not be done without darkness and stealth, a sense of deception to the world and, of course, to herself.
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