Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

by: Tennessee Williams

Symbols

Main ideas Symbols

We should note the following symbolic objects in Cat. First, Brick and Maggie's bed—the place where, as Big Mama will subsequently observe, the rocks in their marriage lie—belongs to the plantation's original owners, Jack Straw and Peter Ochello. As Williams writes, the ghost of the men's love haunts the stage.

Second a gloriously grotesque console, combining a radio-phonograph, television, and liquor cabinet, towers over the room. As Williams notes, it serves as shrine to the "comforts and illusions" behind which we hide from the things the characters face. Notice the moments when Brick will turn on the radio, refresh his drink, thereby raising a screen between him and the household.

Finally we should note Brick's phallic crutch. Its removal at the hands of Maggie and Big Daddy symbolize Brick's castration, a castration concomitant with the revelation of his unmanly homosexual desires. This crippling of the most masculine of men is crucial to Brick's "sexiness." The crutch's continuous restoration and removal—in a sort of game of "now he has it, now he doesn't"—appeals to the fetishistic one.