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A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams

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Why does Blanche's husband kill himself in A Streetcar Named Desire?

Blanche's husband kills himself after she discovers his homosexuality.

Expert Answers

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Blanche's husband Allan kills himself because of Blanche's reaction to his homosexuality. The teenage Blanche was madly in love with Allan when they were first married, attracted to his good looks and gentle nature. However, after catching him in bed with another man, she calls him disgusting. Allan commits suicide shortly afterwards.

Blanche continues to feel guilty about Allan's suicide. She relives the moment of his death throughout the play, hearing the polka music that preceded the fatal gunshot over and over again. Blanche also believes her husband wanted her to help him or at least offer him some compassion and understanding regarding his sexuality. During Scene Six, she tells Mitch that she could tell something about Allan set him apart from other men, but she was unable to place it or even care much until she learned of his affair with an older male friend. She feels guilty for saying such cruel things to him.

Allan's suicide also represents a loss of idealism for Blanche. That loss becomes the defining moment in her life. Though she clings to a romantic view of herself and the world, Blanche has been increasingly unable to deal with reality. She ultimately retreats from it altogether.

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