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Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
The imaginary picture of Barbara Mandrell that the Old Man sees on the invisible wall is real to him because he sees her in his imagination. In his mind he is married to this country star. He calls her, "the woman of my dreams." This has a double meaning. One, because she is a star she is an unattainable romantic figure who is larger than life because of her stardom and second because she is unattainable by the senses because she is in the Old Man's mind. The Old Man describes her picture as "realism." He sees realism as the thing that an individual decides to call reality for oneself and believe in, even if what one believes is not necessarily based on reality. His strange sense of reality permeates the feeling of the unrealistic play as well as the mutating emotions of its characters.
The Countess's Mercedes Benz is never actually seen on stage but imagined through the description of May's character who sees it outside of the motel room door. May describes the car as a "big, huge, extra-long, black, Mercedes Benz." May seems to emphasize the size of the car because to her it is solid evidence that Eddie lied to her about his affair with the Countess. The car is exaggerated and flashy—a tangible object that flaunts Eddie's new relationship in May's face as it is symbolic of power and status—things which May lacks. The car stands out in the environs of the small, dusty, middle- of-no-where-town where May lives and represents an outside, far away, glamorous world she cannot be a part of which Eddie has now joined. The car also represents May's jealousy and the way she has inflated her feelings of jealousy. May says that the car looks exactly like the car she always pictured the Countess in and one gets the sense that May has created the arrival of the car in her mind, not in reality, as in a bad dream.
The play ends with the image of fire blazing from outside the hotel window as Martin stares out at the scene of Eddie's car burning. The blaze glows around the actors remaining on stage as a testament to the passion and sins of May and Eddie. The fire is similar to their relationship in that the more it burns the more energy it creates all the while, destroying the very thing it feeds on. May and Eddie likewise are more potent, alive and engaging people in each other's presence—their passion stirs their deepest feelings but their passion is self-destructive.
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