Themes and Meanings
The House of Blue Leaves is a portrait of a peculiarly American obsession with fame. The obsession is most obvious in Artie’s desire to be a popular songwriter, but Bunny’s enthusiasm for the pope derives mostly from the media hoopla, Ronnie tells of a fame-seeking episode from his childhood and anticipates being on the eleven o’clock news after blowing up the pope, and one of the nuns entered the order to be like Maria in The Sound of Music (1965). Even Bananas has dreams of famous people, but she wants to be an animal in order to escape fame.
Bananas’ observation that animals are not driven by fame underscores the pervasive animal imagery in the play. Artie is a zookeeper; the pictures of film stars on his wall are interspersed with pictures of wild animals. Bananas speaks of the tranquilizers as caging the wild animals inside her; she pretends to be a dog when Artie feeds her, and Artie laments that his home has become a zoo. In the final scene, when everything else is going wrong for Artie, he is called to the zoo, where all the animals are giving birth.
The major images that express the play’s preoccupation with fame are dreams, films, and television. Artie is dreaming as act 1 opens; each character tells us his or her most significant dream, and their accounts of real events take on a surrealistic, dreamlike quality. The characters cannot distinguish dreams, films, or television from real life. Corrinna’s...
(The entire section is 544 words.)