Last Updated on April 14, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1445
Blanche sits drinking in front of an oscillating fan while Mitch approaches the flat, looking disheveled. Mitch rings the bell and Blanche hides the bottle that she has been drinking from before excitedly letting him in. She tries to kiss him, but Mitch treats her coldly. She offers to find him something to drink, but Mitch says that he does not want any of Stanley’s liquor. Blanche continues to pretend that nothing is wrong between the two of them, although she realizes at this point that Mitch’s disposition is unwelcoming.
Mitch begins to tell her that he is no longer interested in seeing her, but she is too busy pretending to find the liquor bottle that she had just hidden to listen to him. She again offers him some liquor, but he refuses more steadfastly and accuses her of drinking all of Stanley’s liquor. He then asks to see her in the light, noting that for the past several months, she has avoided going out with him during the day or to any well-lit venues. While she tries to make excuses, he turns on the lamp and shines it directly at her, despite her protests. After looking at her, he tells her that he does not mind her being older than she let on, but he is angry that she lied to him about her ideals and upstanding morals. When she denies that she lied to him, he tells her that he has spoken to a number of people from Laurel that tell the same story about Blanche’s loose character, and she confesses to having had a number of sexual exploits, including an affair with one of her students. She claims that after her husband killed himself, she was confused and tried to find affection while “hunting for some protection.”
As Blanche finishes confessing, a blind Mexican woman selling flowers for the dead wanders through the street. As the woman continues to call out “Flores para los muertos,” Blanche enters a cryptic reverie, thinking about the times before she lost Belle Reve, reliving pieces of past conversations, and admitting to meeting with the soldiers who would pass through Laurel. Mitch puts his hand around Blanche’s waist and says that he wants what he has been waiting for, but Blanche insists on marriage first. He tells her that she is unfit for marriage but continues to hold her expectantly. To fend him off, Blanche begins screaming “fire” to attract outside attention to the flat, and Mitch runs out the door as Blanche collapses to her knees.
Scene 10 opbeginsens a few hours after scene 9. Blanche has been steadily drinking and packing. Her suitcase is thrown open and clothing is haphazardly thrown into it. She has also dressed herself up in a wrinkled satin gown, silver slippers, and a tiara. She speaks aloud to no one about going for a swim in the quarry, evidently reliving a moment from her teenage years. She looks at herself in a hand mirror before slamming the mirror down and shattering the glass.
Stanley comes back from the hospital and walks into the flat. Blanche asks how Stella is doing, and Stanley says that the baby will not be born before morning. He asks why Blanche is dressed up, and she claims that she received a telegram from Shep to cruise the Caribbean with him in his yacht. Stanley begins removing his shirt as he congratulates her on this turn of events. Blanche asks him to close the curtains, but he instead takes out a bottle of beer and opens it in celebration. He also goes to his bureau and finds a pair of silk pajamas and tells Blanche that he is going to wave them around like a flag when he gets the news that his son has been born.
Blanche continues to talk about Shep and how she has much to give him in terms of “beauty of the mind and richness of the spirit and tenderness of the heart.” She then insults Stanley, telling him that she has been wasting all of these qualities on swine such as Stanley and Mitch. She explains that she broke things off with Mitch, and even though he came back with roses trying to apologize, she could not forgive him for the slander that he had spoken about her. Stanley accuses her of lying, saying that he knows where Mitch is, and that he knows no telegram came for her from a millionaire boyfriend. He violently insults her, calling her dress cheap, and goes to the bathroom to put his pajamas on.
Blanche picks up the phone and tries to contact Shep, but she is panicked and cannot provide an address to the operator. As this is happening, a prostitute on the street is being attacked by a drunkard. A policeman breaks up the fight and both run away. Blanche then asks the operator to connect her to Western Union. She asks to leave a message about being caught in a trap, but Stanley comes out of the bathroom wearing his silk pajamas, leering at her. As she backs away from him, Stanley hangs up the phone, and blocks the door. He approaches Blanche, but she grabs a bottle and smashes it on a table, threatening him with the broken top. He throws a table over, catches her wrist as she attempts to hit him with the bottle, and rapes her.
Several weeks have passed since the events of scene 10. Blanche is bathing, and Stella is tearfully packing Blanche’s suitcase. Stanley, Pablo, Mitch, and Steve are playing poker, laughing raucously. Eunice walks by the table, condemning the men’s callousness. She goes into the bedroom, places a bunch of grapes on the table, and tells Stella that the baby is sleeping. Eunice asks how Blanche is, and Stella says that Blanche believes she is going to be picked up by Shep before going to rest in the country. Stella also says that she could not believe Blanche’s story and go on living with Stanley. This implies that Blanche told her about the rape that but Stella wrote it off as a delusion.
Blanche comes out of the bathroom, and Eunice compliments her hair. Blanche hears Mitch’s voice in the other room, has a moment of lucidity, and demands to know what is happening. Stella and Eunice continue to compliment her and begin talking about her “vacation” to the countryside. Blanche continues to dress and asks if the grapes have been washed. As cathedral bells ring, she begins talking about how she plans to die at sea after eating an unwashed grape.
As she describes her vision, a doctor and matron come to the door. Eunice answers the door and goes back to Blanche, telling her that Shep has arrived and that she has instructed him to wait outside. As Blanche begins to leave, Stella falls into Eunice’s arms, and Mitch refuses to look at Blanche as she walks by. Eunice leads Stella to the upstairs flat. As Blanche steps out the door of the flat to leave, she turns around and runs back into the flat, claiming to have forgotten something. Stanley calls out to the doctor, telling him that he may need to come and claim Blanche.
The matron comes in to take Blanche, but Blanche refuses to go with this woman whom she does not recognize. The men get up to help take Blanche away, and Stella, now in Eunice’s flat, hears the commotion and tries to go back to help her sister. Eunice tells Stella that this is what needs to be done. Downstairs, Mitch attempts to go into the room to help with Blanche. Stanley blocks his way, and he throws a punch at Stanley before collapsing and sobbing.
The nurse attempts to take Blanche away in an arm lock, and Blanche resists. The doctor comes into the room, and the nurse requests a straitjacket, but the doctor speaks to Blanche, calming her, and the nurse releases her. The doctor offers Blanche his arm, and she confides to the doctor that she has always depended on the kindness of strangers. The doctor leads Blanche out of the flat, and Stella calls after Blanche, but she does not turn around and continues walking with the doctor. Eunice gives Stella her newborn child, and Stella comes back down to her own flat and stands on the porch. She sobs, and Stanley comes out to comfort her, but he also begins touching her sexually. The other men continue playing poker.
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