Tom’s dual role in The Glass Menagerie—asa character whose recollections the play documents and also as a characterwho acts within those recollections—underlines the play’s tensionbetween objectively presented dramatic truth and memory’s distortionof truth. Uneven the various other characters, Tom occasionally addresses theaudience directly, seeking to carry out a more detached explanationand assessment of what has actually been happening onstage. But at the sametime, he demonstrates real and sometimes youth emotions as hetakes component in the play’s action. This duality have the right to frustrate ourunderstanding of Tom, as it is tough to decide whether he is a characterwhose assessments have to be reliable or one who permits his emotionsto influence his judgment. It also shows exactly how the nature that recollectionis chin problematic: memory often requires confronting a pastin i m sorry one was less virtuous than one is now. Since TheGlass Menagerie is partially autobiographical, and also becauseTom is a stand-in because that the playwright self (Williams’s given namewas Thomas, and he, like Tom, spent component of his youth in St. Louiswith an stormy mother and also sister, his father absent much the thetime), we can apply this comment on the nature of memory to Williams’smemories that his very own youth.

Even taken as a single character, Tom is full of contradiction.On the one hand, he reads literature, write poetry, and dreamsof escape, adventure, and greater things. ~ above the various other hand, he appears inextricablybound come the squalid, petty civilization of the Wingfield household. Weknow that he reads D. H. Lawrence and follows political developmentsin Europe, but the contents of his intellectual life is otherwisehard to discern. We have no idea of Tom’s opinion ~ above Lawrence, nordo we have any type of indication that what Tom’s poetry is about. All welearn is what the thinks around his mother, his sister, and also his warehousejob—precisely the things from which he insurance claims he desires to escape.

Tom’s mindset toward Amanda and also Laura has puzzled critics. Eventhough he clearly cares for them, the is typically indifferent andeven cruel toward them. His speech at the nearby of the pat demonstrateshis strong feelings for Laura. But he cruelly deserts her and Amanda,and not when in the course of the pat does that behave you re welcome orlovingly towards Laura—not even when that knocks under her glass menagerie.Critics have suggested that Tom’s confusing habits indicates anincestuous attraction toward his sister and also his shame end thatattraction. This theory casts an interesting light on details momentsof the play—for example, once Amanda and Tom talk about Laura in ~ theend of step Five. Tom’s insistence that Laura is hopelessly peculiarand cannot survive in the external world, if Amanda (and laterJim) claims that Laura’s oddness is a positive thing, could haveas lot to carry out with his jealousy desire to keep his sister come himselfas v Laura’s own quirks.

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