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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Tennessee Williams

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title ·  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

author · Tennessee Williams

type of work · Drama

genre · Tragedy

language · English

time and place written · Written in New York, 1939

date of first publication · 1940; first production in New York, 1955 under the direction of Elia Kazan

publisher · New Directions

narrator · None

point of view · Point of view is not located as there is no narrator figure

tone · Tragi-comic

tense · The play unfolds in the time of the present

setting (time) · Summer, mid-1950s

setting (place) · The bed and sitting room of Big Daddy's Mississippi plantation home.

protagonists · Maggie, Brick, Big Daddy

major conflict · Big Daddy has come home from the clinic on his 65th birthday, and his children plan to tell him he is dying of cancer. Mae and Gooper have brought their entire brood in an attempt to jostle Brick and Maggie out of their share of the estate. Their marriage is childless and on-the-rocks; Brick has quit his job and taken to drinking upon the death of Skipper, a friend for whom he harbored sexual desire.

rising action · Big Daddy corners Brick and forces him to recount what really happened with Skipper, robbing him of his crutch, and bribing him with the promise of liquor.

climax · At the end of Act II, Brick admits Skipper's confession of love and reveals Daddy's cancer.

falling action · Gooper and Mae attempt to get Big Mama to sign a preliminary will; Maggie lies about being pregnant and attempts to force Brick to conceive a child with her.

themes · Manliness and homosexuality, the lie, the father and son, the cat on a hot tin roof

motifs · The children, the off-stage telephone, the exotic lands

symbols · The crutch, the bed, the console

foreshadowing · Maggie announces her plot to conceive a child at the end of Act I; Brick decides to reveal Daddy's cancer in return for the revelation of his homosexual desire

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Misleading use of characters' names

by Jamesy777, April 19, 2014

It is disconcerting that you refer to Big Daddy and Big Mama as Daddy and Mama.

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