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What happened to Belle Reve, the DuBois family home?

For generations, Blanche and Stella’s male ancestors sold off pieces of the plantation’s surrounding land to finance their lavish lifestyles and “epic fornications,” as Blanche calls them. By the sisters’ time, only a few acres and the house remained. Then, a series of long illnesses and deaths beset the family, forcing them to take out loans against the property to pay for care and funerals. With only her “pitiful salary at the school,” Blanche, the sole remaining survivor, eventually failed to keep up the mortgage payments, and the loan company foreclosed on Belle Reve.

Why did Blanche come to New Orleans?

Blanche tells Mitch that New Orleans was the only place she could think to go. After the loss of Belle Reve, Blanche moved into the Flamingo Hotel, but her habit of picking up men and taking them to her room caused the management to demand that she leave. A few weeks earlier, the high school had fired her for sleeping with one of her students. In Stanley’s words, “practically told by the mayor to get out of town,” and possessing little money, Blanche’s only option was to go to Stella in New Orleans, announcing her visit via a terse telegram.

How did Blanche’s husband Allan die?

Shortly after their marriage, Blanche walked in on her husband making love with an older man who had been his friend for years. She said nothing, and all three subsequently went out drinking and dancing at a lakeside club. On the dance floor, Blanche abruptly told Allan she knew about his homosexuality and that he disgusted her. Allan ran out of the room and was discovered dead shortly thereafter. Devastated by Blanche’s words, he had shot himself.

Why does Mitch reject Blanche?

Stanley tells Mitch the unsavory stories he has uncovered about Blanche’s past. After verifying the details himself, Mitch becomes depressed and embittered, not just because of Blanche’s promiscuity but because he feels she has put on such a prim-and-proper act, refusing him anything more than a kiss. Mitch feels that she deliberately deceived him and made a fool of him. So, although he still desires her, he no longer wants to marry her, claiming he doesn't want to introduce someone like Blanche to his mother.

Who is Shep Huntleigh?

 Shep Huntleigh was a college boyfriend of Blanche’s, whom she saw again recently in Miami. Now married, he has become a Texas oil millionaire. Blanche refers to Shep at several points. She discusses contacting him to set her and Stella up with a shop; she writes a letter to him, hinting she might visit; she claims he’s invited her on a Caribbean cruise; and finally, she believes he’s about to call for her, getting him mixed up with the vacation Stella’s promised her (actually, her asylum commitment). Shep never actually appears in the play, but his character functions increasingly as a symbol of Blanche’s fantasy world: firstly, as a representative of the gentlemanly past and then as a sort of super-hero savior, coming to rescue her from the “desperate circumstances” she’s in at the Kowalskis’ home.