The Characters in Tennessee Williams play The Glass Menagerie are all searching for a way out of their current situation but feel trapped by life itself. The play is set in St. Louis in the mid 1930's, during the depression era. There was war in Europe and a struggling economy in America. The Wingfield family, who lived in an apartment building, consisted of Amanda, Laura, and Tom Wingfield. They are all unique individuals sharing the same home but lost in their own imaginary world. As each character attempt to escape reality, we will examine the symbols, which gave each character an opportunity for escape. .
We will first look at Amanda Wingfield. She is the mother of Tom and Laura and is portrayed as a loving but over zealous mother, who at times is controlling and nagging. To understand Amanda we must understand that Amanda was born and raised in the old south, pre-civil war. Living on a plantation and coming from a wealthy family, Amanda never went without the finer things in life. All this changed after Amanda married Mr. Wingfield, a telephone man, and left the plantation life for city life. Even though Amanda had left the south, she always carried herself with that southern pride. Amanda found happiness in her memories of youth and used theses memories to escape the dreadful situation she was now living. In the beginning of the play, Amanda describes a vivid memory of receiving gentleman callers to her home. "One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain - your mother received - seventeen! - Gentlemen callers! Why, sometimes there weren't chairs enough to accommodate them all. We had to send the nigger over to bring in folding chairs from the parish house"(1912). As Amanda recalled this found memory the narrator of the play, her son Tom, reacts with sarcasm as to show that he has heard this story before. "I know what's coming"(1912). Amanda was cling to her memories as a way of escaping to a better place, her youth.