The Field of Blue Children by Tennessee Williams

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Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Myra, a university student, is rather typical, a sorority girl pinned to Kirk Abbott, a fraternity man. She still accepts dates from other men, so it is quite clear that the two are fairly casual about their relationship.

No matter how many parties Myra attends, no matter how often she dances until she should be exhausted by the evening’s end, she always feels that something is missing in her life. This neurotic sensation makes her feel as though she has lost something, misplaced some unknown item, the exact nature of which eludes her. Sometimes she visits the rooms of other women in her dormitory, exchanging anecdotes until she must return to her own room, where she cries into her pillow or stares out of the window until dawn—always without knowing the cause of her consternation.

Myra has always written verse, and sometimes when the unexplainable emotion grows too great, she finds relief in jotting down some lines, which could range from a couplet to an entire poem. In April, she writes “Words are a net to catch beauty” in the back of a history notebook. From then on, her bewilderment seemed less acute.

She belongs to a poetry club on campus, at which she becomes acquainted with Homer Stallcup. Through the year, she has felt his avoidance of her must mean he dislikes her, but she finally realizes that the contrary is true: He is in love with her.

None of Myra’s friends know Homer, because he waits on tables at a campus restaurant, fires furnaces, and does chores for his room and board. His frequent female companion, a strange girl named Hertha, is not a member of the “in” group either, but she belongs to the poetry club. She makes a fool of herself whenever Homer reads his work aloud, insisting that the entire group praise his poems. No one is willing to do this, except Myra, who voices her admiration. This seems only to embarrass Homer, who flushes, looks at the floor, and fidgets with his papers.

After the club’s last meeting, Myra approaches the young man and tells him that his work is extraordinary, suggesting that he submit it to some poetry magazines. Still not looking at her directly, Homer digs into his briefcase and brings out a sheaf of poems, thrusts them into her hands, and asks that she critique them.

That night, Myra reads through the poems with a rising sense of excitement, although she does not understand much of what she is reading. Without really thinking about her actions, she dresses hurriedly, goes to the house from which she has seen Homer...

(The entire section is 684 words.)