Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

by: Tennessee Williams

Big Mama

Fat, breathless, sincere, earnest, bedecked in flashy gems, and occasionally grotesque, Mama is a woman embarrassingly dedicated to a man who despises her and in denial of his disgust. She is sympathetic as an object of pity, affection, and indulgence. She also favors Brick, investing him with all her hopes for the future of the family. As she implores in Act IV, Brick must carry on the family line, he must provide Big Daddy with a grandson as similar to he as he is to Daddy himself.

Mama's moment of dignity comes upon the revelation of Daddy's cancer. Here she becomes a woman who, despite the humiliations, has stood by her man. The play is enamored and at the same time somewhat amused with this image of dogged feminine loyalty. Notice Williams's humorously catty irony: as the stage notes indicate, Mama in her dignity almost stops being fat.