Tennessee Williams takes the aspects of reality, idealism and illusion and mixes them together in The Glass Menagerie. Reality is the technologically advancing, financially operated, and socially driven environment at which the world exists. While Jim O'Connor exemplifies these characteristics and represents reality in the play while each of the members of the Wingfield family are living in their own manufactured illusions to escape reality. Indeed, to survive in the tawdry confines of lower-middle working class St. Louis in the mid-1930s, the Wingfield's have to invest in their idealistic and/or delusional fantasies.
The economy of the 1930s is in shambles. The standards of living are low, and middle-class families struggle to get by. Most people live in a world of human desperation, just doing what it takes to make it through the day. In Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie these same struggles are portrayed. The lifestyle of the Wingfield family has decreased due to the economy and other hardships. The Wingfield family was deserted by the father and left to fend for themselves. The father's desertion can be blamed on society. What was a happy home has now turned into a home without a future. All of the Wingfields have their own problems; the mother, Amanda lives in her past, Laura, her daughter, lives in her glass menagerie, and Tom, her son, lives in a dream of escape. .
Reality is the world in which all people interact together. It is driven by financial power and social interactions. The people who have the most power in the world are those who make the most money, who have the best paying jobs. In the world of reality, money is power and all should work hard to achieve both. At the time the story takes place, during the mid 1930's, the majority in the population strongly believes in the American Dream, that in the end, all the hard work a person does throughout his life pays off.