Last Updated on April 14, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 911
Blanche is bathing, and Stella has set up a cake and party decorations in the kitchen area for Blanche’s birthday. Stanley comes in and tells Stella to stop decorating and listen to what he has learned about Blanche. Stanley has talked to Shaw, whose travels regularly take him through Laurel, Alabama, and he tells Stella that Blanche has been lying to them. As he begins describing the lies she has told, Blanche begins singing Ella Fitzgerald’s “Paper Moon” in the tub. First, he says, she had not lost Belle Reve immediately before coming to New Orleans. Instead, after losing the plantation, she began staying at a seedy hotel called the Flamingo, where she attained a reputation for promiscuity. Eventually, she was asked to leave the Flamingo Hotel and not come back as a result of this reputation.
Stella is disgusted by Stanley’s claims and calls them lies, but he continues. While it is not clear where she stayed in the weeks before she came to Louisiana, Stanley says that she has also been lying about taking a leave of absence from her teaching position. Instead, she was caught sleeping with a 17-year-old boy in one of her classes. She was fired from her teaching position and was essentially run out of Laurel. Stella goes to check on her sister, who requests an extra towel, and Stanley, yelling from the kitchen, implies that she has been in the bath long enough.
Stella returns and acknowledges that her sister has always been “flighty,” but she refuses to believe the full story that Stanley has told. In an attempt to defend her sister, Stella briefly talks about how Blanche had worshipped a young man once (her late husband), but he turned out to be “a degenerate.” Stella asks if Shaw had shared that information. Stanley admits that they had only talked about recent events. He then asks if they are expecting any other company for the evening. Stella tells him that Mitch was invited to the party, but Stanley tells her that he has shared Blanche’s past with him, and that they should not expect to see Mitch. Stella is appalled by the fact that Stanley has told Mitch, but Stanley remains steadfast that he was protecting Mitch by telling him.
Stanley also reveals that he picked up a bus ticket back to Laurel for Blanche, and he does not want her living with them any longer. Stella protests, but Stanley says his word is final, and he tells Blanche to get out of the bathroom. As Stanley walks by Blanche into the bathroom, she looks at him fearfully. She begins to brush her hair and tells Stella how refreshed her bath has made her feel. Blanche can tell that Stella is upset, but when she probes about what she and Stanley were discussing, Stella does not answer and continues to busy herself with the birthday preparations.
Scene 8 begins shortly after scene 7, with Stanley, Stella, and Blanche sitting around the table to celebrate Blanche’s birthday. There is also an empty seat where Mitch presumably would be sitting if he were present, and there is a tense silence. Blanche asks Stanley to tell a funny story, and when he refuses, Blanche tells a joke about a lewd parrot. Stella tries to laugh, and Stanley ignores the joke entirely. When Stanley reaches for a pork chop, Stella criticizes his eating habits and asks him to clear the table. He responds by throwing his plate on the floor and asserting that he is king in his own house. He then leaves to smoke a cigarette.
Feeling the tension, Blanche demands to know what he told Stella before the party and then calls Mitch to find out why he did not come. While she goes into the other room to use the phone, Stella goes out to the porch to reproach Stanley for ruining Blanche’s party. Stanley tells her that everything is going to work out in the end and reminds her that they had a happy life before Blanche came to live with them. He also implies that he would like to have sex with her without having to be quiet on account of Blanche’s presence.
In the meantime, Blanche cannot reach Mitch but leaves a message for him with the operator. They all come back to the kitchen and gather around the cake while Stella lights the candles. Blanche regrets that she called Mitch, but then the phone rings. Blanche gets up to answer the phone, expecting it to be Mitch, but Stanley insists that she sit down and picks up the phone. It is not Mitch but one of Stanley’s friends, and they begin making plans to bowl as Stanley stares mockingly at Blanche.
When Stanley finishes on the phone, he tells Blanche that he has a gift for her and gives her the bus ticket to Laurel. Blanche is initially shocked and then runs to the bathroom to throw up. Stella, angry with Stanley, insists that he explain why he has been so cruel to Blanche. As he casually explains that he wants things to go back to the way they were before Blanche arrived, Stella begins going into labor. Stella asks him to take her to the hospital, and they leave. Stanley physically supports Stella and tries to keep her calm as they walk out the door.
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