LAURA: It isn’t a flood, it’s not a tornado, Mother. I’m just not popular like you were in Blue Mountain. . . . [Tom utters another groan. Laura glances at him with a faint, apologetic smile. Her voice catches a little.] Mother’s afraid I’m going to be an old maid. [The scene dims out with the “Glass Menagerie” music.]
Laura Wingfield explains to her mother why she does not expect any gentlemen callers. Laura’s attitude appears apologetic toward both her mother and brother. She worries about letting Amanda down and her mother frustrating Tom. Laura’s next comment, addressed to Tom, shows that she understands her mother’s concerns quite well. But readers don’t know if Laura shares her mother’s fears.
AMANDA: You did all this to deceive me, just for deception? [Laura looks down.] Why? LAURA: Mother, when you’re disappointed, you get that awful suffering look on your face, like the picture of Jesus’ mother in the museum! AMANDA: Hush! LAURA: I couldn’t face it.
After Amanda demands an answer, Laura admits to her mother why she has lied about going to business school: Laura fears disappointing her mother. Laura’s reference to art reminds us that she has visited the museum. Now she makes connections between art and life. Moments earlier, the audience witnessed the controlled power of Amanda’s rage and so has no trouble understanding Laura’s fear.
LAURA: He used to call me —Blue Roses. [Screen image: Blue roses.] AMANDA: Why did he call you a name such as that? LAURA: When I had that attack of pleurosis — he asked me what was the matter when I came back. I said pleurosis — he thought that I said Blue Roses! So that’s what he always called me after that. Whenever he saw me, he’d holler, “Hello, Blue Roses!”
Laura tells her mother about a boy from high school, after Amanda asks her if she’s ever liked a boy. Laura’s account displays her almost pathetic shyness. She feels so grateful the boy noticed and remembered her at all that she does not associate the nickname he gives her with a form of teasing. The scene foreshadows the reappearance of the same young man later in the play.
[Laura slips into the front room.] LAURA: Tom! — It’s nearly seven. Don’t make Mother nervous. [He stares at her stupidly.] [Beseechingly.] Tom, speak to Mother this morning. Make up with her, apologize, speak to her! TOM: She won’t to me. It’s her that started not speaking. LAURA: If you just say you’re sorry she’ll start speaking. TOM: Her not speaking — is that such a tragedy? LAURA: Please — please!
Laura pleads with Tom to make peace with his mother after an angry, nearly violent argument. The dialogue shows Laura’s role as the peacemaker in the family as well as her confidence that she can influence Tom’s behavior. When Tom does apologize, it’s clear that he does so for Laura’s sake. Both siblings know that Laura will bear the brunt of Amanda’s displeasure.
[Laura appears with a dish towel. Amanda speaks to her gaily.] AMANDA: Laura, come here and make a wish on the moon! [Screen image: The Moon] LAURA [entering] Moon — moon? AMANDA: A little silver slipper of a moon. Look over your left shoulder, Laura, and make a wish! [Laura looks faintly puzzled as if called out of sleep. Amanda seizes her shoulders and turns her at an angle by the door.] Now! Now, darling, wish! LAURA: What shall I wish for, Mother? AMANDA [her voice trembling and her eyes suddenly filling with tears]: Happiness! Good fortune! [The sound of the violin rises and the stage dims out.]
Amanda and Laura converse while making a wish on the moon. Their heartbreaking dialogue demonstrates how far Laura has withdrawn from reality. Amanda cries out of pity for her daughter, who doesn’t seem able to understand the idea of making a wish or to imagine good things. The audience understands that Laura has severely repressed her personal feelings; the reasons, however, remain a mystery.
LAURA: You asked me once if I’d ever liked a boy. Don’t you remember I showed you this boy’s picture? AMANDA: You mean the boy you showed me in the yearbook? LAURA: Yes, that boy. AMANDA: Laura, Laura, were you in love with that boy? LAURA: I don’t know, mother. All I know is I couldn’t sit at the table if it was him!
Laura talks to her mother in a panic after learning the name of the young man invited to dinner and recognizing him as the boy she secretly loved in high school. Laura wants to retreat out of fear of meeting him again. When Jim O’Connor turns out to be the same person, Laura gets so sick she can’t eat and spends the dinner hour huddled on the sofa. Laura’s own emotions threaten her, as if she fears having feelings at all.
[He flops back on the sofa. The holy candles on the altar of Laura’s face have been snuffed out. There is a look of almost infinite desolation. Jim glances at her uneasily.] JIM: I wish that you would — say something. [She bites her lip which was trembling and then bravely smiles. She opens her hand again on the broken glass figure. Then she gently takes his hand and raises it level with her own. She carefully places the unicorn in the palm of his hand, then pushes his fingers closed upon it.] What are you — doing that for? You want me to have him? Laura? [She nods.] What for? LAURA: A — souvenir. . . . [She rises unsteadily and crouches beside the Victrola to wind it up.]
Jim O’Connor speaks to Laura right after informing her of his impending marriage. She reacts with very few words. The stage directions describe her actions. Jim’s admission desolates Laura, and she takes refuge in winding up the Victrola, on which she so often plays her father’s old records. In the face of disaster and disappointment, Laura behaves like a lady—childlike and sentimental, but with sweet dignity.
[Laura bends over the candles.] [TOM] For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura — and so goodbye. . . . [She blows the candles out.]
Tom addresses the audience at the end of the play. As he speaks, the audience sees Laura, the last character left on the stage. Tom speaks from a later date, during a time of war. In his memory, Laura now represents delicate beauty and childlike innocence. The scene portrays her as literally and figuratively the source of light. Her action ends the play.