The Glass Menagerie Scenes 3–4 Summary
by Tennessee Williams

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Scenes 3–4 Summary

Scene 3

Tom appears on the landing of the fire escape and tells the audience that his mother is obsessed with the idea of a gentleman caller for Laura. He explains that Amanda has begun selling magazine subscriptions over the phone in order to earn extra money, with which she will “feather the nest and plume the bird.” Amanda enters the scene while talking on the phone to a potential subscriber; she talks incessantly until the woman on the other end of the phone hangs up on her. Amanda appears surprised when she finds out that there is no one on the line.

Tom and Amanda argue behind the curtains. Tom expresses anger at the fact that Amanda has taken his library books away when he is the one who pays the rent on the apartment in which they all live. When Tom comes through the curtains, Amanda also appears, wearing a bathrobe that once belonged to Mr. Wingfield. When Tom says he is leaving, Amanda scolds him for his self-centeredness. Her tirade continues with an accusation: “I think you’ve been doing things that you’re ashamed of.” Tom loses control and shouts at his mother about his dissatisfaction with his job at the shoe warehouse. During his rant, Tom denies that he has been acting selfishly. He tries to leave to go to the movies, but Amanda is suspicious and accuses him of lying about his destination. Tom grows emotional again and taunts his mother by saying that he is going to “opium dens, dens of vice and criminals’ hang-outs.” In fury, Tom calls Amanda an “ugly—babbling old—witch” as he makes his way to the door of the apartment. When Tom becomes tangled in his coat sleeves, he throws the garment across the room in frustration. The coat hits the shelf on which Laura stores her glass animals, accidentally breaking some of the fragile objects. Laura becomes upset at the sound of broken glass.

Amanda tells Tom she won’t speak to him again until he apologizes to her, and she leaves the scene through the curtains. Laura is preoccupied with her loss. Tom goes to the shelf and “[d]rops awkwardly on his knees to collect the fallen glass.”

Scene 4

As a church bell rings, indicating that the time is five o’clock, Tom stands outside on the fire escape and “shakes a little noise-maker” in time with the bell. He has been drinking alcohol. Laura appears in her nightgown. When Tom tries to enter the apartment, he drops his key. Laura lets her brother in and asks him where he has been. Tom claims that he has been at the movies all night and describes a magician’s stage show he attended. Laura tells Tom to lower his voice so as not to wake their mother, and he lies down and falls asleep.

As the church bell sounds for six o’clock, an alarm clock rings, and Amanda’s voice orders Laura to wake Tom. Laura pleads with Tom to apologize to their mother, but he is still exasperated. Tom is reluctant to say he is sorry and asks his sister if their mother’s silence is “such a tragedy .” When Amanda appears, she pressures Laura to go to the shop for butter...

(The entire section is 818 words.)