Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

by: Tennessee Williams

Big Daddy

Characters Big Daddy

Affectionately dubbed by Maggie as an old-fashioned "Mississippi redneck," Daddy is a large, brash, and vulgar plantation millionaire who believes he has returned from the grave. He loves Brick dearly, favoring him as his rightful heir.

Though his coming death has been quickly repressed—as Freud notes, the unconscious can never know its own death—in some sense Daddy has confronted its possibility. His near-death is a limit experience. Daddy returns from death and dismisses the vanitas of his worldly possessions: a rich man cannot buy his life. After years with a woman he cannot stand, he is bent on acting on his desire in all its violence. Not only will he buy a beautiful woman, but he will smother her in minks, choke her with diamonds. Daddy is murderous in his fetishism. As he will tell Brick, there is little shocking on the other side of the moon, "death's country." Daddy's sojourn in "death's country" perhaps explains his reminiscence of his world travels and the child prostitute in particular, his encounter with that which civilization would repress at all costs. In returning from death's country, Daddy would force his son to face his own desire.