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LEARNING GUIDE TO:

THE GLASS MENAGERIE

Note that this Guide is in the process of revision. It can be used as it stands but in the near future it will be much improved.

SUBJECTS --- Drama/U.S.; U.S./Missouri;
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT --- Families in Crisis;
         Mother/Son; Mother/Daughter; Disabilities;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS --- Responsibility.

1973 Made For TV Version: Age: 12+; No MPAA Rating -- Drama, 100 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com. The supporting actors won Emmys for their performances and the leading actors received Emmy nominations.

1967 Movie Version: Age:12+; MPAA Rating -- PG; Drama; 134 minutes; Color; (VHS only)

Description:     This is a film version of Tennessee Williams' classic play about a child separating from his family and leaving home. The father has already left. The daughter shies away from any new experience and can't finish school. Her life is circumscribed by her collection of glass figurines and her father's old phonograph records. The mother is at her wit's end trying to find some way in life for her daughter. The adult son, whose paycheck supports the family, is being drawn away by his need to seek his own life.

Benefits of the Movie:     This film is an excellent example of the artistry of Tennessee Williams and the genre of the "memory play". The play contains many symbols and literary devices. Properly presented, it will help adolescents understand the issues faced by many children when they make a decision about whether to leave home.
 
LEARNING GUIDE MENU
Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Before Showing the Movie
Helpful Background
Literary Analysis
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Character Development
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Projects and Activities
Bibliography







Possible Problems:    MINIMAL. Smoking and alcohol use are shown.

Parenting Points:     Before showing the movie to your child, review with him or her the points described in Before Watching the Movie. After the movie, ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question and several other Discussion Questions of your choice.

Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

The play won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for best play of the season when it premiered on Broadway during the 1944/1945 season.

1967 Movie Version:
    Selected Awards:  None.

    Featured Actors:   JoAnne Woodward, Karen Allen, John Malkovich, James Naughton.

    Director:  Paul Newman.
1973 Made for TV Version:
    Selected Awards:   1973 Emmy Awards: Best Supporting Actor of the Year (Michael Moriarty); Best Supporting Actress of the Year (Joanna Miles); 1974 Directors Guild of America Nomimations: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Specials (Anthony Harvey); 1973 Emmy Awards Nominations: Best Lead Actress in a Drama (Katharine Hepburn); Best Supporting Actor in Drama (Sam Waterston).

    Featured Actors:   Katharine Hepburn as Amanda Wingfield; Sam Waterston as Tom Wingfield; Joanna Miles as Laura Wingfield; and Michael Moriarty as Jim O'Connor.

    Director:  Anthony Harvey.
 
QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:   Did Tom do the right thing in leaving to join the Merchant Marine? Explain the reasons for your position.

Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer. A good answer will evaluate Tom's need to strike out on his own to fulfill his dreams. Here is an example: "Tom's mother's demands were stifling him. They prevented him from progressing with his own life. Loving other people means that you will sacrifice many things for them, but you cannot be expected to sacrifice your youth and hopes for happiness. For Tom there was nothing at home except a dead-end job, his difficult relationship with his mother, and watching his sister sink." However, in certain situations staying and working through the problems has a lot to say for it. In discussion adults can contrast Tom's situation with that of George Baily in It's a Wonderful Life. For George Baily staying in his home town and meeting his responsibilities to members of his family meant giving up his dreams of being an architect in the big city. However, while staying home would have left Tom working in a dead-end job all of his life, Baily had a fulfilling life in his home town. He married, had children and had a responsible job at the Savings and Loan.








BEFORE WATCHING THE MOVIE

The following is a short sample lecture to give students the background to help them understand "The Glass Menagerie". Adapt it to the abilities and needs of your class.
The events shown in the "The Glass Menagerie" took place in St. Louis, Missouri, during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The play was written by Tennessee Williams, one of the best American playwrites. It is the most autobiographical of William's plays and people from his family can be recognized as characters in the drama. His father was barely at home. His mother was overbearing and controlling. His sister suffered from mental instability.

The play was written during the Second World War. Before the 1940s, plays were told with a linear timeline. The actors on stage would act out events in the order that they occurred. "The Glass Menagerie" is the first American "memory play" in which a narrator reflects on his past and shares events with his audience. The "memory play" genre is in common use today and is easily adapted to film.

Here are some terms used in the movie:

"DAR" is short for the Daughters of the American Revolution. This is an organization of women whose lineage can be traced back to an ancestor who assisted in achieving independence for the United States during Revolutionary War. The DAR is a social organization with some charitable purposes. It also has a reputation as a bastion of conservatism.

There are references to two writers in this movie. Without permission, Mrs. Wingfield takes a book by D.H. Lawrence that Tom had been reading and returns it to the library. She doesn't like the author, D.H. Lawrence and she considers the book to be obscene. D.H. Lawrence wrote novels from 1913 - 1930. They include Lady Chatterly's Lover and Sons and Lovers. These books contain explicit descriptions of sex and for that reason they were banned in many parts of the U.S. and Great Britain for decades. However, many people loved the novels and D.H. Lawrence is now considered an influential author. His novels are required reading for literature majors in most colleges.

Mrs. Wingfield also mentions a blind English writer named Milton. She is referring to John Milton who wrote an epic poem called "Paradise Lost" in 1667. The poem is as long as a book. It describes the Judeo-Christian story of Eden, the temptation of Adam and Eve by the devil, and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

In ancient and mideval times "Unicorns" were believed to have been real animals. They had a single horn on their forehead, the beard of a billy-goat, a lion's tail, and cloven hooves. Later, Unicorns were said to have the body of a horse with one single horn. Unicorns were said to be wild and powerful. They could only be tamed only by a virgin. Stories about unicorns are often found in literature and the references to male sexuality are obvious. In this play, the unicorn is an important symbol.

"Pleurosis" is another way of saying "pleurisy". This is an the inflamation of the membrane covering the lungs and the lining of the chest. Excess fluids may build up in the space. When the person inhales or coughs, the inflammation causes pain.

The Pirates of Penzance is an English operetta written by Gilbert and Sullivan. It is often performed by high schools.

Mrs. Wingfield refers to an actress named "Garbo". This is Greta Garbo, a beautiful and famous movie star of the 1930s and 1940s. For films in which she stars, see Conquest and "Anna Karenina".

The term &uqot;spartan endurance" refers to the legendary soldiers of the ancient Greek City State of Sparta. Sparta was famed for the training, ferocity and endurance of its soldiers.

Jackson is the capital and largest city in Mississippi. The Mississippi delta refers to the flood plain of the Mississippi river, the largest river in North America. This expanse of flat land with very rich soils runs from runs from Memphis, Tennessee through the state of Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. The plantation culture of the South flourished in the Mississippi delta.

"Still waters run deep" is a saying that means that the calm exterior of a person "often conceals great depths of character, just as the deepest streams can have the smoothest surfaces." Bartleby.com.

"Krauthead" is a derogatory term for a person of German descent. This play was written during the Second World War when the U.S. was fighting Germany.

"Union of Merchant Seaman" is labor union for working on ships which bring goods to and from countries. Before and during the Second World War the Merchant Marine was extremely important. Merchant ships transported war material to Europe and Asia. It brought raw materials to the U.S. for its factories. Being a merchant seaman held a substantial element of danger because merchant shipping was a favorite target of German submarines. In order to get a job in the Merchant Marine, Tom had to join the Union of Merchant Seamen.

[Review the words and terms in the Building Vocabulary section.]

As you watch the play, think about how a memory play allows the playwright to achieve dramatic effects that a chronological presentation of the story would not allow. The characters in "The Glass Menagerie", particularly Amanda, the mother, and Laura, the sister, may make you feel uncomfortable. If that happens, the playwrite and the actors are doing their jobs. Think about why the playwrite presented the characters in the way that he did. Ask yourself if there anything else that Tom could have done? Think about why Tom feels the need to tell this story. These questions will take you to the heart of the play.

[End of sample introductory lecture.]
 
Helpful Background:

Contemporary drama written before the 1940s was characterized by realism, an effort to make the characters and plots as true to life as possible. Realism itself was a revolt against melodrama that dominated theater during most of the 19th century. A "memory play" is a synthesis of both realism and melodrama. The writing style is naturalistic (i.e. not overly heightened, expressionistic, or avant garde). We can relate to the characters, their situations and their emotions because they are all real. However, the playwrite can also color the characters and events based on the filter of the narrator's memory. This adds to the tools at the playwrite's command but it introduces another layer of complexity and ambiguity that is missing from a realistic presentation.

Williams suggested that during stage productions of "The Glass Menagerie" a film with relevant images and symbols be projected onto a screed behind the actors. This mixture of media adds an extra element of reality vs. fantasy and reminds us that the events onstage are a recollection of past events.

The contrast between the unbearably shy sister and her normal and well adjusted brother is clear. She is doomed to stay at home. He must move away to avoid being smothered by their mother. Some children remain in the same neighborhood as their parents and even work in the family business. But this arrangement works only if it provides an opportunity for the child to grow and develop a life of his own. That was not possible in this family because of the desperate financial situation, the domineering personality of the mother, and the shyness and dependence of the sister.

 

BUILDING VOCABULARY: menagerie, secretions, "lesser of two evils", induct, vivacity, cotillion, tommy gun, malarial fever, dogwood, jonquil, "shank of the evening", "strings attached", "cat's out of the bad", Drummer, Guernica, cavalier, "cut the rug", "what are you gassing about", propaganda, "way off the beam", "strings on me".



Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) was one of America's greatest playwrights. He won a Pulitzer Prize for "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 1947 and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1955). Other plays by Williams include "Sweet Bird of Youth", and "Night of the Iguana."












Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.
LITERARY ANALYSIS

"The Glass Menagerie" is a story that describes the experiences of large numbers of people who mature and strike out on their own but leave behind some unfinished business with their family. Either the family needed their financial contribution, or they left a mother alone to raise siblings, or they left a beloved brother or sister to fend alone in a less than ideal situation. Many of us, to one degree or another, feel the emotions described in this play. On another level, and adding great poignancy to the play, are its autobiographical elements. The author left a situation in which his father was not at home. His mother was said to be controlling. His sister was mentally ill with schizophrenia, at that time an incurable disease. The genius of "The Glass Menagerie" lies in the fact that Tennessee Williams took these personal elements and made them into something universal.

Using memory as an organizing factor in the play gives Williams leeway to explore his story. In memory events are often mixed up, exaggerated, symbolic, and melodramatic. The audience must sort out how much of what it is told is true or represents merely the memory of the narrator who, after all, was an actor in what transpired.

THEMES

Growing Up and Leaving Home: This theme is described in the first paragraph of this section. Tom is not fleeing from Amanda's controlling personality. That is a dramatic device to show how the young adult who leaves often feels about his or her parents. Had Amanda been the sweetest person in the world Tom would still have felt shut up in a coffin and that she was unreasonable. Many young adults who are not in touch with their own emotions use feelings of resentment for real or imagined slights to break the strong bonds of affection that they feel for their parents. They have to severe the bonds of affection to make the break and move away. (Many teenagers who do this find later in life that the things about their parents that were intolerable when they were young are not so imporant now.) Tom would have felt smothered and unhappy at home no matter what his mother was like.

Abandonment or, in other words, living your own life vs. responsibility to family and siblings: This theme is a counterpart of the first. Many children, when they move away, leave behind siblings who must struggle with their own lives, and the children that have moved away, feel guilty about it. Guilt can also come from leaving a parent in a bad situation, as Amanda will be left by the end of the play. But these children must move out and away because their lives require it. Tom knows that leaving means abandoning his mother and sister. He asks, "Who gets out of a coffin without removing one nail?" The answer, of course, is that only a magician can do this.

The theme of abanonment runs throughout the play. Mr. Wingfield abandoned his family and "fell in love with long distance". Amanda needs to keep Tom in the family earning money at least until she can find someone to take care of Laura. However, Tom can't wait. Part of him knows that there is nothing that he could do for Laura and that trying to help her would ruin him. Jim does not marry Laura because he is engaged to another girl. Each of these men went off to live their own lives and their "abandonment" is depicted as something that is inevitable, ultimately good for them, and painful to the Wingfield women. The play tells us that sometimes there is no way to live the life you need to live and avoid causing pain to those you love. The entire play can be seen as Tom's apology and justification for the abandonment of his family.

It should be noted that leaving home and finding your destiny with its usual result of abandoning some people and responsibilities at home is not the only possible solution to problems like Tom's. The contrary solution, staying, taking care of your sibling, and abandoning a dream you have had all your life, is presented through the character of George Baily in the classic movie It's A Wonderful Life. The situations have differences but at its core the solutions posed by these two stories are based on fundamental differences of outlook between the two individuals who make the decision to stay or to leave.

Fantasy Plays an Important Role in Life - helping us to deal with the intolerable: Each member of the Wingfield family uses fantasy to help them cope with a harsh reality. Amanda has trouble accepting the reality of Laura's condition and escapes to memory in which she probably overstates her own popularity. She is also enraptured by the fantasy of a "Gentlemen Caller" for Laura. This allows her to continue living and trying in the desperate situation she is in. Laura, although she accepts her condition and her limitations, escapes into the fantasy world of the glass menagerie. This allows her to tolerate a life restricted by her shyness. Tom hates his life and escapes to the fantasy of the movies, attending magic shows, and overindulging in alcohol to allow him to cope.

Memory: Amanda's obsession with memory brings us to the next important theme. Looking back at events gone by is the point of departure for the entire play and Williams called this work a "memory play". This theme ties in with the other two themes. Memory is not reality, but an interpretation of the past. An exagerated reality tortures Amanda in its contrast to her current situation and Laura's isolation. Laura too, has memories. The important memories described in the play are about Jim, the only boy she liked, and of her embarrassment at having to drag her brace in front of the entire chorus. Finally, memory is what haunts Tom and his final plea to Laura to put out the light.

Relations Between People are Complicated: Relations between people are shown to be problematic. Laura loves Jim and he could love her but he has "strings attached", i.e., he loves Betty and they are engaged. Tom loves his mother and his sister but his need to live his own life, his feeling that he cannot help his sister, and his mother's domineering personality drive him away. Amanda loves her children but cannot stop from driving her son away nor can she help her daughter.

CHARACTERS

There is no hero in this play. Everyone is flawed. Tom's resolution of his situation, to escape the coffin of his family, is unsatisfactory because he cannot do it without hurting his mother and his sister (disturbing the nails). The entire play is his confession and attempt to understand what he did. What part of Tom feels he should have done is expressed by Jim: "I wish you were my sister. I'd teach you to have confidence in yourself." The only thing that Tom does for Laura is to bring Jim home and he does that only because his mother insists. It is a failure. But then, at that time there was nothing that could be done in the face of mental illness and nothing Tom could really do for Laura.

Nor is there a villain in this play. The two possibilities are Tom and his Mother. Tom left the family but in truth, there was no life for him in that house. Despite the fact that it is his earnings that pay the rent his mother controls the house. He says that, "There is no single thing I can call my own". She even censors his books. There was nothing that Tom could do for Laura. She was more than shy and her inability to function bordered on mental illness. The playwrite's sister, the model for Laura, did suffer from schizophrenia.

There is no protagonist and no antagonist as such. There is a force in Tom that is driving him toward his own life and independence. Amanda resists this force but knows that ultimately it is futile. For Tom's sake she doesn't mind him leaving. But she needs his help until she can find some way to take care of Laura. Unfortunately, Laura is already beyhond help, Amanda just doesn't know it. Whether Tom knows it or not, he can't wait.

Amanda is no villain. She loves her children and she asks, "What is to become of us? What is the future?" She has good reason to be worried. Amanda doesn't care about herself. She sees the inevitability of Tom leaving but asks him to stay until Laura is provided for. But Tom knows that Laura will never be provided for, except by him, and that this would mean sacrificing his life to work forever in jobs like the warehouse. This, very rightly, he is unwilling to do.

Tom loves his mother and his sister. He goes to amazing lengths for them. As he describes it he gets up every morning and goes to work doing something that he hates.

Jim is the closest thing there is to a hero but even he gets "way off the beam" when he kisses Laura and leads her on. Jim is America as portrayed in this play, high spirited, optimistic, giving, loving and fundamentally shallow. But, he is real. As he tells Laura, "I'm not made of glass".

SYMBOLS

The Glass Menagerie: Laura surrounds herself with glass figures that, like her, are fragile, delicate and transparent. Laura tells Jim, "Glass breaks so easily no matter how careful you are". They are beautiful in the light as Laura is beautiful in the light. (Light is another important symbol, see below). The glass figurines are direct symbols of Laura and her fragile emotional self. When she takes out her figurines and shares them with Jim, she is sharing the most important and vulnerable parts of herself. Note that both men in this play, Tom and Jim, break an animal in the glass menagerie.

Light and Dark: During the narration, Tom is shown in the dark. The animals of the glass menagerie sparkle in the light and Laura tells us that they love the light. Light come into the house from "Paradise", the dance hall. Tom fails to pay the light bill so that he can buy his membership in the Union of Merchant Seamen. As a result he is able to leave home and his responsibilities to his family but the lights go out. Laura is caught in the light at various times in the play. After dinner, Jim takes the lit candelabra to Laura. At the end of the play, Tom is haunted by the memory of his family. He pleads with Laura to put out the lights so that he can forget. So, what does light mean in this play? There are probably several ways to say it. The light is Laura's innocence and goodness. The light is her life.

The unicorn, a fantastical animal, is a symbol of Laura's love - special and different. She allows Jim to hold it, telling him that she trusts him with it. When Jim breaks the unicorn's horn off, it becomes just another animal, no longer out of the ordinary. Breaking the unicorn symbolizes the destruction of Laura's dream that she could find love. By giving the unicorn to Jim, she is giving him her broken love and acknowledges that he will be marrying someone else.

Jim symbolizes the "common man", dynamic, healthy and able to deal with his environment unemcumbered by the things that drag on the Wingfields (Laura's handicap and feelings of shyness; Amanda's poor choice in a husband, her memories of a better life in the past, and her overbearing personality; Tom's responsibility for his mother and his sister). Jim is not a particularly remarkable man. He has not gift, except the gift of optimism and being a go-getter -- typically American traits for that time. It is this strength and optimism that attracts Laura. But it is not to be.

Another symbol that is used in different ways by different people is the fire escape. It is a way out, a retreat to safety for both Tom and Laura. Tom escapes reality into a different, better world, while Laura goes to the fire escape to retreat into her fantasy world. It is a bridge, a way out for Tom but Laura has trouble negotiating the fire escape and slips on it.



Tom's story about the magician and the coffin is an obvious metaphor for his wish to escape the confines of the family. He admires the magician, and wants to escape the coffin without breaking it. Tom does not want to hurt anyone by leaving, but he feels he must leave or be trapped for the rest of his life.

Dance is a symbol of healthy activities of young people. No one in the Wingfield family dances, except that Mrs. Wingfield danced when she was a girl. The "Paradise Dance Hall" next door is aptly named. You can hear the music and see the lights. However, no one from the Wingfield household goes there. When Jim tries to get Laura to dance they break the unicorn, the symbol of Laura's love.

Both men in this play, Tom and Jim, break an animal in the glass menagerie. This foreshadows the injury that they will cause Laura.

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"Go to the moon you selfish dreamer . . . I didn't go to the moon. I went much further for time is the longest distance between two places."








quot;The Glass Menagerie" is said to be the most autobiographical of all of Williams' plays. His mother was said to be controlling. His sister suffered from schizophrenia. In those days there were no drugs that could control this mental disease and it was incurrable. She never recovered from the illness and from a frontal lobotomy which was performed to try to control it.


Discussion Questions:
    1.   See Questions Suitable for Any Film.

    2.   Did Tom love his mother and his sister? Suggested Response: Obviously he loved his sister. His mother was more difficult to love but he obviously did. There are several scenes which show them having a good and affectionate time together. Moreover, he stayed with the family a long time and he risked his best friendship at the warehouse to bring Jim, the "Gentlemen Caller" to dinner.

    3.   Which character made you feel the most uncomfortable? Why did you feel uncomfortable and why did the playwrite make the character like that? Suggested Response: Probably it will be either be Amanda or Laura. Amanda wouldn't stop talking and was interfering and controlling. The playwrite's mother was reportedly very much like this. But in the play, these qualities served to dramatize the fact that living in the household was intolerable for Tom. Even if the mother had been as nice as a person as could be, Tom would have felt that she was obnoxious and controlling because he wanted to get away and live out his own life. To make us see the figure of the mother in the way that she made Tom feel, the playwrite would necessarily exagerate her clingy, interfering qualities. (Some teenagers find that their parents make their lives intolerable for reasons that, in later life, they realize were not so imporant.) Tom would have felt smothered and unhappy at home no matter what his mother was like. For Laura: If Tom could have helped Laura, there was a reason for him to stay home. Tennessee Williams' real life sister had schizophrenia and there was nothing that he could do to help her.

    4.   Assume that Tom's mother wasn't controlling but was the nicest person she could be. Would Tom have eventually left home and joined the Merchant Marine? Suggested Response: Yes. Amanda's controlling nature is used as a dramatic device to show us how she made Tom feel. For any child who needs to leave home to establish his own identity and live his own life, any parent will be too controlling and too invasive of their privacy. Tom left because he had to fulfill his own destiny and that destiny was beyond the house in St. Louis.

    5.   Many people see this play as the playwrite justifying what he had done and at the same time apologizing for it. Do you agree with this? Defend your position. Suggested Response: Like many very close decisions in life, Tom's decision to leave home and join the Merchant Marine was not entirely satisfactory. He knows he needed to do it. He also knows that he left his mother and his sister to fend for themselves. He feels very guilty about it, especially for leaving his sister.

    6.   Amanda Wingfield says that she is bewildered by life. What does she mean by this? Suggested Response: To hear her tell it, she was a popular Belle in Jackson and had every prospect for a good marriage. But she made a bad marriage and her husband left her. She now lives in a small rented house in St. Louis and it is up to her young son to support the family.

    7.   Why does Tom go to the movies every night? Suggested Response: To get away from a situation which he knows is not good for him and in which he is unhappy. Another way to say it is that he is getting ready to leave and the movies help him do that.

    8.   Define a "memory play" and describe what advantages that it provides to a playwright. Suggested Response: In a "memory play" the story is told from the memory of the narrator or one of the characters. The advantage for a playwrite is that the story does not have to be told in a linear fashion and that the narrator's perceptions an misperceptions, his coloring of events, can be used by the playwrite to get his message across.

    9.   Describe three themes in the film. Suggested Response: See Themes in the Helpful Background Section.

    10.   Describe three symbols in the film and what they stand for. Suggested Response: See Symbols in the Helpful Background Section.

    11.   The unicorn is broken when Jim gets Laura to dance with him. What is the significance of that? Suggested Response: There are two good answers. One is that it foreshadows the fact that Jim is going to leave her. Another is that it means that the reality and hopefullness that Jim brings into Laura's life will collide will destroy her.

    12.   Who is the hero and who is the villian in this story? Suggested Response: There are no heroes or villians.

    13.   What are the contending forces in this play? Is there an antagonist and a protagonist? Suggested Response: There is no protagonist and no antagonist as such. There is a force in Tom that is driving him toward his own life and indepencence. Amanda resists this force but knows that ultimately it is futile. For Tom's sake she doesn't mind him leaving. But she needs him around until she can find some way to take care of Laura. Unfortunately, Laura is lost already, Amanda just doesn't know it. Whether Tom knows it or not, he can't wait.

    14.   There are two events which foreshadow other events in the play. What are they? Suggested Response: When Tom breaks ones of Laura's glass figures as he rushes out the door and when Jim breaks the unicorn when he is dancing with Laura.

    15.   Does the fact that this play has autobiographical elements detract from it or make it stronger? Suggested Response: This is a matter of taste but we think it makes it more immediate and more poignent?

 



Character Development Discussion Questions:

    FAMILIES IN CRISIS - MOTHER/SON - MOTHER/DAUGHTER

    See Questions # above.

    DISABILITIES

  1. What advice did Jim give Laura about her disability? Do you think it was good advice? Suggested Response: He told her to ignore it and go on with her life and to give people the benefit of the doubt. It was good advice.


 

Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.

    RESPONSIBILITY
    (Do what you are supposed to do; Persevere: keep on trying!; Always do your best; Use self-control; Be self-disciplined; Think before you act -- consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choices)


    1.   What does this play show us about the limits of a child's responsibility to his or her family? Suggested Response: That when you have to live your own life, sometimes you have to abandon your family.

    2.   Would your answer to the last question change if there was some way that Tom could have helped Laura? Suggested Response: This is a much closer question.

 


Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.


Bridges to Reading: None.
 



Links to the Internet: None.   OTHER LESSON PLANS: The Memory Play in American Drama—Part I from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Projects and Activities:
    1.   Projects Suitable for Any Film; 2.   Compare the situations and the reactions of Tom Wingflied in "The Glass Menagerie" and George Baily from It' a Wonderful Life. Is the difference in their reactions to the question of whether they leave home due to different circumstances or differences in their personalities? Which ends up working out for the best?

    3.   Rewrite the ending of the film. Assume that there was some way for Tom to help Laura and he knows it. What does he do?

    4.   Rewrite the ending of the film. Assume that Jim goes to the station and finds that there was a train wreck and Betty was killed. He starts visiting Laura regularly.

    5.   One day Tom brings home a girl and confesses to Amanda that all the time at the movies he's been dating this girl. He says he wants to get married. How does the story end.
 

Bibliography: None.

This Learning Guide published November 8, 2004. The Parenting Points section was added on July 24, 2006. It is currently under revision as of March 22, 2007.


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