Quote 5

I descended the steps of this fire escape for a last time and followed, from then on, in my father’s footsteps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space. . . . I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something. . . . I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is sold. The window is filled with pieces of colored glass, tiny transparent bottles in delicate colors, like bits of a shattered rainbow. Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes. Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!

The play closes with this speech by Tom, at the end of Scene Seven. Here, Tom speaks as the narrator, from some point in time years after the action of the play. He describes how he leaves Amanda and Laura after being fired from his job and embarks on the life of the wanderer, just as his father did years ago. This escape is what Tom dreams of aloud in Scene Four, and it is Tom’s chosen means of pursuing the “adventure” that he discusses with Amanda in Scene Four and Jim in Scene Six. From Tom’s vague description of his fate after leaving home, it is unclear whether he has found adventure or not. What is clear is that his escape is an imperfect, incomplete one. Memories of Laura chase him wherever he goes, and those memories prove as confining as the Wingfield apartment.

Tom’s statement that “I am more faithful than I intended to be!” indicates that Tom is fully aware that deserting his family was a faithless and morally reprehensible act, and the guilt associated with it may have something to do with his inability to leave Laura fully behind. But the word “faithful” also has strong associations with the language of lovers. A number of critics have suggested that Tom’s character is influenced by an incestuous desire for Laura. The language used in this sentence and the hold that Laura maintains over Tom’s memory help to support this theory.