Symbolic illustration of Laura's hands holding a glass unicorn

The Glass Menagerie

by Tennessee Williams
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Why did Jim call Laura “Blue Roses" in The Glass Menagerie?

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When Amanda asks Laura whether she ever liked some boy, she mentions Jim. She points out his picture in the yearbook in the Pirates of Penzance performance and with a debate trophy. She then tells her mother that Jim used to call her "Blue Roses." Her mother asks why he...

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When Amanda asks Laura whether she ever liked some boy, she mentions Jim. She points out his picture in the yearbook in the Pirates of Penzance performance and with a debate trophy. She then tells her mother that Jim used to call her "Blue Roses." Her mother asks why he would call her such a name. She explains that when she missed school due to pleurosis, which is an inflammation of the lining of the lungs or chest cavity, he thought she said "Blue Roses." Thereafter, he called her by that name. When he saw her passing in the halls, he'd yell after her, "Hello, Blue Roses!"

When Laura's brother Tom invites Jim over for supper and he meets Laura again, he says he vaguely remembered seeing her before, but a name other than Laura came to his mind. Laura asks, "Was it Blue Roses?" Jim remembers that's what he called her but can't remember why, so she explains it to him as well.

Jim points out later that Blue Roses is a good name for her. She says blue is wrong for roses, but he says it's right for her because she is unique. He tells her that she's pretty and kisses her. He then explains that he is in love with another girl. His intent only was to increase her self-confidence, but he realizes that he went too far.

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When Jim and Laura were in school together, Laura was weak and sickly.  One day, Jim asked Laura what was wrong with her, and her reply, Pleurosis, was taken by Jim, who didn't know that word, to be 'Blue Roses', which he then called her as a nickname. Dramaturgically, this brief detail allows Williams to make some character points:  Jim is popular but basically kind, Laura was shy, and the relationship between them was destined to be an unrealistic one, built on fantasy and misunderstanding.  When they meet again in the Wingfield house, he bazrely remembers her, but she has added her memory of him to her "glass menagerie" collection of fragile fantasies. 

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