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A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams

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How does Stella's child reconcile the opposing worlds of Kovalski and Debois in A Streetcar Named Desire?

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The problem with this question is that reconciliation implies two sides compromising or at least coming to a peace with one another. This does not happen between the Kowalskis and the Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, nor is it even suggested.

In the original play, the child is not really a symbol of reconciliation. If anything, the child will keep Stella in her abusive relationship with Stanley. It is never said openly, but when Eunice tells Stella "Don't ever believe it. Life has got to go on. No matter what happens, you've got to keep on going," she might also have the baby in mind. Stanley is an unrepentant brute, and it is unlikely that the baby is going to change him—at least, not according to any signals in the play's staging or dialogue.

About as close to reconciliation as the baby might get the two families is in the socio-political symbolism of the Kowalskis (the New South) and the Dubois (the Old South). Kowalski's marrying and having a child with Stella reflects how the Old South is giving way to the new, but again, this is not really a reconciliation. It is more of a consumption. Stella is now a Kowalski. She has rejected the aristocratic world of the Dubois family, which is well and truly buried the moment Blanche goes insane. At the end of the play, she and her baby remain Kowalskis, with nothing of the Dubois family identity remaining about them.

In the classic 1951 film, where the ending was changed, the baby is not a means of reconciliation either. To adhere to Production Code values (ex. a criminal cannot go unpunished), Stella finally accepts Blanche's account of her rape by Stanley, takes her child, then leaves Stanley, announcing that she'll never come back. This is not a reconciliation, but a separation. Stella leaves Stanley and goes up to Eunice's apartment in the last shot. This is neither a reconciliation nor is it a return to her Dubois origins. Rather, it is an escape from both.

A Streetcar Named Desire is about a battle lost. The Old South dies and the New South thrives. Fantasy (represented by Blanche and the fading Dubois family) is crushed by reality (represented by Stanley). I don't think Tennessee Williams even suggests the two can be reconciled, even with a child between a Kowalski and a Dubois.

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The original Streetcar play version did not specify a way in which the baby could have saved the relationship between Stella and Blanche, because the focus of their separation was Stella's inability to let go of Stanley, her perverse sexual attraction to him, and her detachment from Blanche and Blanche's issues.  However, in the movie version we find that Stella took her baby and moved in with Eunice and left Stanley for good.

Based on THAT ending, we can assume that the baby could have been the vehicle by which Stella could have found the strength and dignity to end her violent relationship. Blanche would have seen a version of herself being reborn in Stella's child, and both women could have gone away to start over in order to prevent another one of their kin to suffer the tragedies each woman was undergoing.

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