A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams takes place right after World War II in New Orleans, Louisiana. Stella is in her mid-twenties and is pregnant with her blue collared husband, Stanley Kowalski. It is the middle of summer when Stella's sister, Blanche Dubois arrives unexpectedly carrying all her belongings with the news that she has lost Belle Reeve, the family mansion, and that she is taking a break from her teaching job. Blanche is not impressed with the Kowalski's apartment as it is small and not well kept. Stella left widowed Blanche with their dying family to pursue a life of her own. Upon meeting Blanche Stanley does not trust her thinking that she is lying to them and trying to keep the money from the estate to herself but eventually learns she is not the lying type. Blanche takes long baths and criticizes the apartment every chance she gets, irritating Stanley to no end. One night during a poker game with his friends, Stanley gets too drunk and abuses his wife Stella after getting mad at Blanche for talking to his friend Mitch. Blanche is shocked and the women go upstairs to stay with their neighbor but later that night Stella returns to Stanley. Blanche is infuriated and can't understand why Stella stays with a man like Stanley. The next day Blanche is trying to talk Stella into leaving Stanley and is saying nasty things about him when he overhears her. He threatens her with things he has heard about her past and wants to destroy her reputation. Blanche turns to alcohol to help her cope with her nerves about people finding out her past. One night after a date with Mitch, Blanche opens up and tells him how her young husband committed suicide after she found out he was a homosexual. Mitch tells her how he has lost a love and that they are meant for each other. About a month later while Stella is setting up for Blanche's birthday dinner, Stanley tells Stella about how she slept around with men and got kicked out of hotels and "she didn't resign temporarily from the high school because of her nerves...they kicked her out... I hate to tell you the reason that step was taken! A seventeen-year-old boy -- she had gotten mixed up with" (101). Stanley tells Mitch about Blanche's past and Mitch no longer has any interest in her even though they were set to be married. Stella is horrified at Stanley's birthday present which is a one way ticket back to Blanche's hometown. Stella and Stanley are about to get into a fight when Stella goes into labor. When Stanley returns from the hospital Blanche tells him that she is leaving to be with her former suitor, Shep Huntleigh, who is now a millionaire. Stanley realizes that Blanche has made up this story and takes a step toward her. Blanche threatens to break a liquor bottle that she has been drinking from in his face. Stanley then, "picks up her inert figure and carries her to the bed" (130) Stella does not believe that her husband raped Blanche as she claims and the send her to an insane asylum even though she thinks she is going to be with Shep.
1. At one point in the play, Blanche tries to guess what Stanley's astrological sign is based on his loud personality. What is your astrological sign and do you think they are an accurate read of a person's personality?
2. Blanche does not have a strong hold on reality at the end of the play. How can this be good and bad?
3. At the end of the play when Blanche is being taken away by the doctor to an asylum while she thinks she is just being escorted outside she says, "Whoever you are - I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." Do you think that strangers can ever be depended on to be helpful in today's world? Do you have any examples?