Tom Wingfield enters his family’s apartment. While at dinner, Amanda, Tom’s mother, reminisces about her past gentlemen callers, while his sister, Laura, points out that no gentlemen callers come for her.
Amanda approaches Laura about her absence from business school, and Laura explains that she stopped going after suffering a nervous breakdown and becoming ill. Worried about Laura’s future, Amanda asks Laura if she has ever liked a boy, and Laura reveals that she once had a crush on a boy named Jim. Laura apologizes to her mother for the fact that she is crippled, and Amanda says she should never use that word.
Tom explains Amanda’s obsession with finding Laura a gentleman caller. Amanda and Tom fight about Amanda’s disapproval of Tom’s activities, and Tom complains that she does not give him privacy. Tom goes to grab his coat and leave, but accidentally knocks over one of Laura’s glass figurines.
Tom arrives home drunk and tells Laura about his night. He apologizes to Amanda, and she expresses concern over his future. Amanda begs Tom not to leave for the merchant marines until Laura has found someone to take care of her, going as far as asking Tom to find someone in the warehouse where he works.
Tom informs Amanda that he has secured a gentleman caller for Laura named Jim O’Connor. He admits that he did not tell Jim specifically that he would be coming over to meet Laura, and Tom upsets Amanda when he points out Laura’s peculiarities.
Next day, Amanda shocks Laura by telling her that the gentlemen caller is Jim, the boy she had a crush on in high school. After Jim arrives, Amanda sends Tom to retrieve Laura for dinner, and they learn that Laura is ill just as a storm begins outside.
As the lights go out, Amanda sends Jim to the parlor where he takes a seat next to Laura. Laura reminds him that they knew each other in high school, prompting him to reminisce about the past. Laura describes her collection of glass animals, and Jim invites Laura to dance but accidentally knocks down a glass unicorn. He kisses Laura, but regrets his action, telling her that he is seeing someone with whom he is in love. Jim announces that he must leave, and Amanda accuses Tom of playing a joke on them.