Two streetcars, one named Desire, the other Cemeteries, brings Blanche DuBois on a spring afternoon to the Elysian Fields address of her sister Stella, whom she has not seen since Stella’s marriage to Stanley Kowalski. Blanche, dressed in a fluttering white garden party outfit, jars with the shabbiness and menace of the neighborhood from her first appearance. The proprietress of the building admits her to the Kowalski apartment a few minutes before Stella’s return. One of Blanche’s weaknesses becomes immediately apparent when, after a successful search for Stanley’s whiskey, she drinks a half glass of it neat.
When Stella returns, Blanche makes only a token effort to hide her dismay at her sister’s new surroundings. Stella is happy with her wild man and regards Blanche’s criticisms with good-humored tolerance. Blanche turns on Stella and defends herself against a fancied accusation that she allowed Belle Reve, the family mansion, to be lost. When Stanley enters some time later, he greets Blanche brusquely. When he mentions her dead husband, Blanche becomes first confused and shaken, then ill. Later, while Blanche is in the bath, Stanley and Stella are free to discuss the implications of her sudden visit. Stella asks him not to tell Blanche that she is going to have a baby. Stanley, who is suspicious over the loss of Belle Reve and imagines himself cheated of property, tears open Blanche’s trunk looking for papers. Blanche enters and, using a pretext to get Stella out of the house, presents him with legal papers detailing the forfeiture of all the DuBois property. Blanche demonstrates a bewildering variety of moods in this scene, flirting with Stanley, discussing the legal transactions with calm irony, and becoming abruptly hysterical when Stanley picks up old love letters written by her dead husband. Her reaction to the news of Stella’s pregnancy is reverent wonderment.
It is Stanley’s poker night with three cronies, one of whom, Mitch, is a large, sentimental man who lives with his mother. Stella and Blanche enter after an evening in the French Quarter that they extend to two-thirty in the morning to keep out of the way of the poker game. They cross into the bedroom, separated only by portieres from the living room, and meet Mitch leaving the bathroom. Blanche looks after him with some interest as he returns to the game. She begins undressing in a shaft of light through the portieres that she knows will expose her to the men in the next room. She dons a robe in time for Mitch’s next trip to the bathroom. Out of the game, he stops to talk to Blanche, and during their conversation she adopts an air of primness and innocence. Not wanting Mitch to see how old she really is, she asks him to cover the naked light bulb with a little Chinese lantern she bought in the French Quarter. They dance briefly to some music from the radio, but when the radio distracts the poker players, Stanley becomes violent and throws the radio out of the window, which sets off displays of temper that involve everyone in the...
(The entire section is 1242 words.)