Our Town

by: Thornton Wilder

Important Quotations Explained

1
So—people a thousand years from now—this is the way we were in the provinces north of New York at the beginning of the twentieth century.—This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying.

The Stage Manager makes this declaration in the middle of Act I. He has just discussed how historical documents tend not to reveal much about the real lives of ordinary people and has mentioned that he wants to put a copy of Our Town into the time capsule alongside several more famous texts. The play, he says, will reveal to future readers facts about human life other than the Treaty of Versailles. The Stage Manager’s position of authority within the play allows him to speak philosophically and articulate Wilder’s own ideas. This quotation in particular clarifies Wilder’s general intent in writing this play. Many dramas, the Stage Manager implies, deal with moments of heightened emotion or rare events, and many historical resources relate esoteric incidents. Our Town, however, addresses daily events and traditional, recognizable ceremonies. We witness through the Gibbs and Webb families the full spectrum of human existence, from birth to marriage to parenthood to death. The Stage Manager’s direct address to future readers, the “people a thousand years from now,” suggests his wish that Our Town persist as a source of information about the importance of appreciating the simpler details in life.