The Glass Menagerie

by: Tennessee Williams

Scene Four

Summary Scene Four

The imagery in Tom’s speech about the magic show contains several layers of symbolic meaning. The coffin trick, with its suggestions of rising from the dead, is a reference to Christian resurrection. Christian themes are also suggested by Tom’s tendency, when he reaches the limits of his patience with Amanda’s reproaches, to see himself as a martyr committing a supreme sacrifice for the family’s good. In addition, the rainbow-colored scarf that Tom brings home and gives to Laura reminds the audience of the rainbow of colors refracted by her glass animals. On a social and historical front, the coffin is representative of the condition of the American lower middle classes, whom Williams describes, in the stage directions, as a “fundamentally enslaved” sector of America.