Monday, February 28, 2011

A Streetcar Named Desire

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.

Discussion Questions
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?


Bojana D 11.12 said...

1. My sign is a Scorpio and I do believe they can be accuarate. I have a temper and am passionate about things that I love, which are two characteristics of scorpios.

3. Strangers can be very kind. It's not something to depend on though. I think acts of kindness among strangers just randomly happen. For example, I work at Marc's now and I was working as a cashier when this happened. This woman needed 40 cents to help pay for something and she had absolutely no change on her. The woman behind her in line gave her a dollar to help pay for her purchases.

allie s 11-12 said...

3) yes i think even in today's world people can be kind. Even if they are strangers. Sometimes they can be selfish and not care, it all depends on who it is, and who they are as a person. I went to a store once and tried stuff on. I walk out and i forgot my purse with all my stuff in it. The lady that went in right after me chased me down and gave me my purse. She didnt take anything.. ( i counted my money and looked) which i think was very nice. But that is something i would do if someone needed something. Even if they are strangers. Strangers can be depended on i think... but only sometimes.

Matt P. 13-14 said...

1. My sign is Sagittarius, and I am not so sure about the accuracy of it. There are several qualities that do apply to me, but there are quite a few that do not.

2. It could be good because one would not necessarily see the bad things in life, but it could also be bad because one could lose oneself and all connections to the real world.

3. I think that people can still be helpful in today's society, even if they are strangers. I think that we need to keep this mentality if we are to trust anyone new that we meet.

Deanna K 5-6 said...

Discussion Questions
1. I'm a Leo and no, i definitely don't think your astrological sign tells anything about your personality. Some characteristics may be accurate, but it is only because they are generalizations.

2. This is bad because Blanche is not living in real life. She may make rash decisions and never see the consequences to her actions because of this fantasy world she is living in.

3. Yes, a stranger can make or break someone's day. If you are having a terrible day, someone's nice gesture could turn it upside down. and vice versa.

Kelsey M. 13-14 said...

It seems like we all agree that our astrology signs have some characteristics of our personality but are not always true.

Kelsey M. 11/12 said...

3) I think there a lot of good people in the world, and many times, I've seen strangers do random acts of kindness. About five years ago, my dad had a really bad car accident and hit a tree on the side of the road going 55 mph. A random truck driver, who luckily used to be a paramedic, stopped and did everything in his power to help my dad. He kept him awake and alert until the Life Flight helicopter came. I never got to meet this stranger, but I know my dad may not be alive today if it were not for him.

Kelsey M. 13-14 said...

I think a lot of people say that other people that don't know them don't care about them but I think there are people who care about others like the truck driver in Kelsey's story.

Hannah L 13-14 said...

1) I'm an Aquarius and I believe that it is not neccessarily an accurate read of a person's personality because although I match some of the personality traits of an aquarius, I match other signs much better than my own according to the personality traits of those signs.

Alexander C. [13-14] said...

Not having a strong hold on reality is usually a bad thing. A person who does not understand what is real and what is not cannot focus on how they actually live in the present. This topic can be applied to the recent hollywood movie Inception, where the main character cannot grasp reality. The only good thing that I can think of that is an outcome of not grasping reality is that someone does not miss much if they didn't know it was real.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

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