Symbolic illustration of Laura's hands holding a glass unicorn

The Glass Menagerie

by Tennessee Williams

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Compare the effects of Tom's departure in The Glass Menagerie and Troy's death in Fences.

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Both Troy Maxon from Fences and Tom from The Glass Menagerie are characters that feel burdened by their responsibilities to their families. Perhaps Tom is a bit more justified in his frustration. Being beset on all sides by an absent father, a delusional mother, and a nonfunctional sister, his frustration is more understandable. In the case of Troy Maxon, he is the delusional and absent one, carrying on an affair and believing in his dreams of playing professional baseball despite being far too old.

Regardless of their differences, Troy and Tom have very similar effects on their families when they depart from their lives forever. In the case of Tom, his mother and sister are left in financial ruin and have no choice but to band together to face whatever may come. Since it is a memory play, Tom, and by extension the audience, never know what happens to his family or what they think of Tom thereafter. Much in the same way, the Maxon family comes together after the death of Troy. In this play, however, it is clear that the family offers his memory some kind of forgiveness and attempts to remember him fondly.

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After Tom abandons his family in The Glass Menagerie, Amanda, his mother, cares for his sister (and her daughter), Laura. Amanda stops hoping that Tom will take care of them and she becomes the bedrock of the family and the person on whom Laura, who is disabled, can rely. The two remaining members of the family draw closer together after Tom leaves, as they know that they cannot depend on Tom.

Similarly, when Troy Maxson dies at the end of Fences, the family members who remain, including his wife, Rose, his son, Cory, and his brother, Gabriel, forgive him and are drawn closer together. Cory returns home after a long absence to go to Troy's funeral. Therefore, like Tom's departure, Troy's death functions to bring the remaining members of his family closer together.

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