Symbolic illustration of Laura's hands holding a glass unicorn

The Glass Menagerie

by Tennessee Williams

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How does dialogue reveal character in Scene 7 of The Glass Menagerie?

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In Scene 7, Tom's character is particularly revealed, the aggression and hostility between Tom and his mother reaches a boiling point.  Tom's mood is as dark as the storm that rages outside the apartment.  He is contrasted with Jim O'Connor the gentleman caller who is charming, sure of himself and an easy talker.  Tom's character, on the other hand emerges as even more angry and resentful that he has been during the entire play.  His behavior has been cruel and indifferent towards his mother and his sister and Amanda demands to know why. 

The final break in the relationship comes at the end of Scene 7.  Amanda is so offended by the fact that Tom invited Jim O'Connor over for dinner as the gentleman caller, when he is engaged to be married, that she can barely speak to Tom, she is so angry.

"Amanda: That's right, now that you've had us make such fools of ourselves.  The effort, the preparations, all the expense! The new floor lamp, the rug, the clothes for Laura!  All for what? To entertain some other girl's fiance! Go to the movies, go! Don't think about us, a mother deserted, an unmarried sister who's crippled and has no job.  Don't let anything interfere with your selfish pleasure."  (Williams)

Tom's response is to smash his glass, frightening his sister who screams.  Tom practically leaps out onto the fireplace as he leaves the apartment for the last time.  

The stage directions provide us with details about what Laura and Amanda are feeling now that Tom has walked out.  The two are huddled together, they comfort each other.  It helps to clarify the selfishness of Tom's behavior reading the description of the two abandoned women clutching each other in search of peace and security from the chaotic storm of an evening that just passed. 

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