Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 470

“The Field of Blue Children,” like much of Tennessee Williams’s work, juxtaposes the practical, materialistic world against the more ephemeral arena of the artist. Concomitant with this division, the author places sexual desire, passion, and creativity in the poet’s corner, contrasting it with the workaday world in which Myra and Kirk live after their marriage.

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The names of the characters are significant in this regard: Myra means “wonderful,” Kirk means “church,” Hertha means “the earth,” and Homer suggests the Greek bard. At the beginning, Myra feels that something significant is missing in her life, although, on the surface, she seems to enjoy all the typical activities of a popular college girl. This sensation is so overwhelming that she might be called a hysteric in the clinical sense. She assuages her pervasive uneasiness to a degree by writing verse, culminating in her recognition that “Words are a net to catch beauty!” Here she comes close to becoming what Williams would think of as wonderful.

After the episode in the field of blue flowers, Myra has an opportunity to come down on the side of passion, to accept the impractical, but thoroughly satisfying, life of art. She lacks the courage, however, to embrace Homer for more than just one night. In the author’s view, she has given up her chance to be wonderful when she demurs and chooses to repress her strongest instincts in favor of a practical marriage to Kirk Abbott.

Kirk represents the completely unromantic, steady materialist. He accepts Myra’s dating other men after they are pinned. He never becomes her confidant during her time of almost constant angst. After their marriage, he takes a job with the telephone company in a neighboring town, living with Myra in an efficiency apartment, where they are reasonably happy.

Myra does not write poetry anymore, and because she has not seen Homer’s work in any literary magazines, she has decided that perhaps his poetry was not very good after all. In short, she has settled for not being the free spirit she might have been had she chosen the poet. The only time she sees Homer after their night of love, he is walking across the campus with Hertha clinging to his arm, perhaps symbolic of all-forgiving Mother Earth, all that is left for him.

The title of the story further validates Williams’s feelings about artistic endeavor. The blue flowers in Homer’s poem have become blue children, the natural result of the creative life force.

The final episode, Myra’s return to the one significant scene in her life, indicates the author’s assessment of her. She has equated the field of blue flowers with her troublesome youth, now successfully put away forever. She has forfeited her chance to fulfill the meaning of the name Myra.

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