They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at—Elysian Fields!
Blanche speaks these words to Eunice and the Negro woman upon arriving at the Kowalski apartment at the beginning of Scene One. She has just arrived in New Orleans and is describing her means of transportation to her sister’s apartment. The place names that Williams uses in A Streetcar Named Desire hold obvious metaphorical value. Elysian Fields, the Kowalskis’ street, is named for the land of the dead in Greek mythology. The journey that Blanche describes making from the train station to the Kowalski apartment is an allegorical version of her life up to this point in time. Her illicit pursuit of her sexual “desires” led to her social death and expulsion from her hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. Landing in a seedy district that is likened to a pagan heaven, Blanche begins a sort of afterlife, in which she learns and lives the consequences of her life’s actions.