Which character in The Glass Menagerie does this quote best describe?” To be nobody but yourself in a world which does its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the...

Which character in The Glass Menagerie does this quote best describe?

” To be nobody but yourself in a world which does its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle a human being can fight and never stop fighting.” e.e.cummings 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While these lines can certainly apply to Laura, encased in the apartment like one of her glass animals in its menagerie, they seem most appropriate for Tom Highfield, the protagonist of Tennesse Williams's play.  For, Tom feels trapped, confined to a dull job and oppressed at home by his domineering mother, Amanda, who castigates him for bringing in a novel by D. H. Lawrence, which is then considered scandalous, and for her demands that he be the provider for their home as well as bring home a "gentleman caller" for his reclusive sister.

Tom retreats into movies and he writes poetry; however, he is never able to find himself. Added to his angst, Tom is haunted by the idea that he will be like his father.  He angrily tells his mother,

"You think I want to spend fifty-five years down there in that --celotex interior! with--flurescent--tubes!  Look! I'd rather somebody picked upa crowbar and battered out my brains--than go back mornigns!  I go!  Every time you come in yelling that ----"Rise and Shine!  "Rise and Shine!" I say to myself, "How lucky dead people are!  But I get up.  I go!  For sixty-five dollars a month i give up all that i dream of doing and being ever!  And you say self--self's all I ever think of!  Why, listen, if self is what i thought of, Mother, i'd be where he is--GONE!" (Pointing to father's picture.)

"The slow and impacable fires of desperation" in Tom are what precipitate his abandonment of his family.  Still, despite his leaving, Tom's life is empty because he has sought relief in illusions such as the movies and literature; he must yet fight against the harshness of reality and his memories.

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