Symbolic illustration of Laura's hands holding a glass unicorn

The Glass Menagerie

by Tennessee Williams

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In The Glass Menagerie Scene 4, is Amanda's character consistent with previous scenes?

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In my mind, Amanda's pragmatism is unique in this scene.  It is one of the few times that she is shown to be extremely pragmatic about her, the life she leads, and the people in it.  In this scene, she understands Tom is becoming like his father, and possesses an underlying sense that she is part of the reason for driving both men away.  She is direct in stating to Tom that once Laura's future is settled, he will be free to do what she wants.  Her pragmatism is present in wanting to have a sit- down discussion with Tom and sending Laura for an errand in order to do it.  It is unique for Amanda to have been this direct, indicating that the fight in the previous scene truly did have an impact on her and demonstrated that their relationship is beyond repair.  Tom's departure with calling her an "ugly—babbling old—witch" might have impacted her to understand that her son, like his father, has one foot out the door.  Cutting this deal with Tom regarding Laura's future is one of the last strings that can bind mother and son.  She demonstrates a unique penchant for pragmatism in the scene not only for negotiating for his freedom, but for her daughter, in understanding that Laura will not attract gentlemen callers.  In her daughter being different from her, Amanda seems to be indicating that she needs Tom's help in this regard.  The reward for his help would be his freedom.  This practical side of Amanda in her relationship with her children is something that is unique and new in the development of her character.

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