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\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Glass Menagerie, The:
Scene Seven

A half hour has passed. Tom, Amanda, and Jim are finishing dinner. Laura is on the sofa. It is raining. Just after the curtain rises, the lights go out. Amanda lights candles and Jim cracks a joke. Amanda asks Tom if he's forgotten to pay the light bill. He stutters and Amanda reacts angrily. Jim jokes that Tom probably wrote poetry on the bill, and that at least candlelight is beautiful -- it's his favorite light, he says. As punishment for his negligence, Amanda tells Tom he'll help her with the dishes. She instructs Jim to go in to Laura and bring her some wine and candles.

Jim and Laura are now alone in the living room. He gives her the wine and sets down the candelabra. She is very nervous. Jim sits down on the floor and invites her to sit with him. He encourages her to move closer to him and she does. He begins asking her about her shyness, and says that he likes it. It seems old-fashioned to him, he says, and then asks if she's bothered by his questions. She doesn't respond directly, but instead asks for a piece of gum and clears her throat nervously. She asks if he's still singing, and says she remembers his performances from high school. Jim begins to remember her then, but he can't remember the nickname he had for her. Blue Roses, Laura reminds him, and he's bowled over. He says when she opened the door he had that name on the tip of his tongue, but didn't put it all together. They reminisce. Laura reveals that they had a class together -- chorus -- and that she'd been embarrassed to enter because her leg brace made a racket on the floor. Jim says he'd never noticed. Jim and Laura have a halting conversation in which they finish each other's sentences. They are flirting. Laura reveals that she'd always wanted to ask Jim to sign her program for the Pirates of Penzance, but that he was always surrounded by his friends and she never had the nerve. Jim takes it from her now and signs it. He tells her that he isn't engaged to Emily. He asks Laura what she's done since high school. She dropped out of business school, she says, as well as high school. But, she adds, her menagerie takes up a lot of her time. You have to take fastidious care of glass, she tells him. Jim appears not to hear her and has a long monologue on the subject of self-confidence, encouraging her to feel more "'superior.'"

Jim uses himself as an example of being motivated -- his coursework in public speaking and in radio engineering. He says that until he began taking the course in public speaking, he didn't think of himself as outstanding at all. Now, however, he feels that he's learned he has an "'aptitude'" for "'science'" -- the science of public speaking, presumably. He adds that one of his friends thinks that Jim's better at analyzing people than even professional psychologists are. He's beginning to seem quite self-involved. He declares to Laura that her primary problem is a lack of confidence in herself. He's based this on several comments she's made in their conversation, he says. He takes as an example Laura's anxiety about the "'clumping'" sound her leg brace made in high school. He notes that it made her too nervous to attend class regularly. It caused her to drop out of high school, he reminds her. He says that no one else was as conscious of her clumping as she was. He encourages her to accentuate the things in which she excels. He says that everyone excels in something -- they've only got to discover it. For example, he says, he's got an interest in and an aptitude for electrodynamics. By taking a class in radio engineering, he's pursuing this goal. Jim rambles on about the "'future of television'" -- something in which he believes. He wants to get into the business at the beginning. Finally he asks Laura if there's anything she's as interested in as he is in television.

She reminds him that she'd already mentioned her glass collection. She shows him her oldest piece. It's 13 years old and very fragile, she warns: "'if you breathe, it breaks!'"

Jim says he's clumsy and so shouldn't hold it. Laura presses it on him, though, saying she trusts him. She points out to Jim how the glass catches the light. She admits that this is her favorite piece. He's a unicorn. Unicorns are extinct, Jim says, and then wonders if this one is lonely. He's playing along and Laura appreciates it, smiling. She says that all the animals get along well. How does she know this, Jim asks. Well, she hasn't heard any arguments, Laura kids back. Jim sets the unicorn down on a table, as Laura suggests. He stretches and remarks on how big his shadow is in the candlelight. Laura enthuses that, yes, his shadow is big. She is playing into his self-obsession, clearly, and seems quite taken with Jim.

Jim walks to the door to see if it's stopped raining. He opens the fire escape door and hears music from the Paradise Dance Hall. He suggests that they dance. Laura tries to brush off the invitation, but he jokes along, asking if her dance card is full. They hear waltz music playing and he encourages Laura to dance, again. She protests that she can't dance. And she's worried she'll step on Jim. "'I'm not made of glass,'" he replies. Laura is honest about her lack of knowledge, and asks Jim how to begin. Jim says to just leave it all up to him. They begin to dance, with Jim encouraging Laura to relax and let go while they move. Laura says she's afraid Jim won't be able to move her around the dance floor easily. "'What do you bet I can't,'" Jim replies, swinging her around easily. Laura is impressed, and remarks excitedly that indeed he is capable of leading them into a dance. Jim keeps telling Laura to let herself go. She says she's trying, and he keeps pushing her to relax. She's doing better, he says, and they begin moving around clumsily, according to the stage directions. Laura is bewildered and exclaims, "'Oh, my!,'" and "'Oh, my goodness!'" She's clearly overwhelmed by the experience. She's never had anything like this before. Jim laughs and then they knock into something.

Jim asks what they've hit. The table, says Laura. Did something fall off, he asks. She answers yes. Jim is perturbed. He hopes it wasn't the unicorn. Was it the unicorn, he asks? Yes, Laura tells him. His horn has fallen off, she says. Jim expresses chagrin, but Laura says maybe it's a good thing -- now he's like all the other horses. Jim is clearly worried. He thinks she'll never forgive him for breaking what is probably her favorite menagerie piece. Laura backtracks here. Even though she had shown the unicorn to Jim as an example of her favorite animal, she now says that she doesn't actually have many favorites among the pieces. And she says it's not a tragedy. Glass breaks easily, she tells him. Even the traffic going by will knock the animals off their shelves. Jim apologizes again, though, saying he's sorry to have caused this accident. Laura answers that she'll just pretend the unicorn had an operation to make him look less "'freakish'" and more similar to the other horses. They laugh together and Jim appreciates Laura's recuperation of the accident. He says now that he's pleased to see her sense of humor, and remarks on how different she is from other people he knows. He asks if she minds him saying this. She nods -- meaning that she is happy to hear it. He can't find the words to express how she makes him feel. He tells her she's pretty and then says he wishes she were his sister so that he could teach her some confidence. She's different from other people, he says, but that's a good thing -- something to be proud of.

Laura asks in what way she's pretty. Jim replies, seemingly overwhelmed, that she's pretty in every way. He discusses her hands, her eyes, her hair. Somebody, Jim says, needs to make Laura feel pretty and to boost her confidence. Somebody, he says, needs to kiss her. He runs his hand up her arm to her shoulder and kisses her. When they stop, Laura sits down on the sofa looking excited and confused. Jim reaches for a cigarette. They have an awkward exchange. Jim offers Laura a mint and then confesses to her that he's not in a position to take her phone number and call her. He can't follow up on their attraction, he says; he's got a steady girlfriend.

Laura holds back tears but doesn't speak while Jim rambles on. He asks her to say something, but instead she takes the unicorn and presses it into Jim's palm. She wants him to have a "'souvenir,'" she says.

She moves over to the Victrola, occupying herself with winding it up. Amanda re-enters the room with a pitcher of fruit punch and some macaroons. She says she's brought the two of them some snacks. She picks this inappropriate moment to sing an old ditty about lemonade: "'Lemonade, lemonade/Made in the shade and stirred with a spade -/Good enough for any old maid!'" Jim laughs uncomfortably, saying he's never heard the song. Amanda notices now how serious Laura looks and asks her what's wrong. Jim says the two of them were speaking seriously. Amanda puts the food down, and Jim says she shouldn't have gone to the trouble of putting the snacks together. He's got to go. He confesses to Amanda that he's got a girlfriend -- Betty -- and that they've set a date for their wedding. He's got to pick Betty up at the train station, he says, and can't be late. He leaves.

Amanda calls Tom into the living room and tells him that Jim is engaged. She's furious with Tom and thinks he's deliberately played a joke on herself and Laura. Tom says he didn't know that Jim was engaged, and he seems genuinely surprised. They begin to fight. Tom leaves, saying he's going to the movies. Tom throws his glass to the floor and storms out.

Tom gives his final speech. He left Saint Louis shortly after the dinner, he says. He'd been fired for writing a poem on a shoebox. He traveled quite a bit from city to city, feeling "pursued by something." He doesn't know what it is, but says that, for example, sometimes he'd be in a city, walking at night, when he'd look into a shop window and there would be little glass bottles of perfume. He'd then imagine feeling his sister touch his shoulder. He tried to leave her behind, he says, but he's "faithful" to her -- more faithful than he ever imagined he'd be. He turns to cigarettes, stranger, alcohol, to erase her memory. We get the sense that he's still running from these memories and always will be. The final words he speaks are a direct address to Laura: "'Blow out your candles, Laura - and so goodbye,'" he says. And we see Laura blow candles out.

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