The Subject Was Roses was first presented at the Royale Theatre, New York City, on May 15, 1964. It was an outstanding success with critics and the public alike and it won many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The play belongs to the category of domestic realism and has a cast of only three characters. John and Nettie Cleary live unhappily together in a middle-class apartment in the Bronx, New York. Their twenty-one-year-old son Timmy has just returned home after serving three years in the army during World War II. As the drama unfolds, the tensions in the family become apparent. Husband and wife squabble; Nettie is overprotective toward her grown son; John tries to overcome years of neglect and make an affectionate connection with Timmy, but that path proves stormy. Eventually, Timmy, who has more awareness of the effect of the negative family dynamics than his parents, decides he must leave home. The play achieves its effects in part through effective use of dialogue. The dialogue conveys the long-standing hostility between John and Nettie, their doomed efforts to recapture their lost love, and their failure to understand that their old ways of behavior alienate Timmy and drive him away. They manage to achieve the very opposite of what they intend.