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Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
As Brick pronounces to Big Daddy, mendacity is the system in which men live. Mendacity here refers to the mores that keep what Williams's dubs the "inadmissible thing" that is repressed at all costs. The two primary objects of repression in Cat are Brick's homosexual desires and Daddy's imminent death. After the men are forced to confront these secrets, Mama will desperately invest all her future hopes in the dream of Brick becoming a family man. The responsibilities of fatherhood would somehow stop his drinking, the estate could go to the rightful heir, and the perpetuation of the family line through Brick is Daddy's immortality. The idyllic fantasy of the family restored, however, is yet another of the play's lies or Maggie's invention of a coming child.
Read about the similar theme of practicality and illusions in August Wilson’s Fences.
Against the beautiful, childless couple, the image of the family, and the mother in particular, will appear hilariously grotesque. Mae and Gooper have spawned a litter of "no-necked monsters" fit for the county fair; Mae, the cotton carnival queen besmirched by proxy, is a "monster of fertility"; and the sounds of the screeching children continually invade the scene. This side of the family will continually stage burlesques of familial love and devotion, such as Daddy's birthday party in Act II.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof!