Blanche DuBois is a genial, old-fashioned woman from the agricultural heart of the South who, upon a series of tragic events, is forced to live in the trying, unfamiliar depths of the new industrial South with her sister, Stella. The two have grown into entirely different people with entirely different lifestyles since Stella left the family plantation for a new life. Blanche must deal with Stella's brutal, primitive-like husband Stanley, who refuses to "have the wool pulled over his eyes" by Blanche's fantasies and pretensions of life. The clashing of their co-existences, coupled with Blanche refusing to accept reality, forces her into a downward spiral that eventually leads to her collapse.
Alvin B. Kernan believes there are metaphors throughout the early stages of the book which symbolize Blanche's issues. He states realism in Streetcar is identified with the bright light of the naked bulb that exposes Blanche's aging face. This symbolizes Blanche's aging ideals. Kernan explains that she turns away from the misery of reality at Belle Reve to her fairy tale romantic endeavors. Blanche, when accused of deliberate deception says only, "I didn't lie in my heart." As an educated audience, we know her heart not to be completely down-to-earth. Kernan expands on this with, "The "realistic" point of view has the advantage of being workable. Blanche's romantic way of looking at things has a fatal weakness: it exists only by ignoring certain portions of reality"(18). This is clear in Streetcar by Blanche's denial of certain acts of her past. She outright says, "I don't want realism I misrepresent things to [people]. I don't tell the truth, I tell what ought to be t!.
he truth"(145). Ultimately, Kernan finds realism to be a mode of acceptance by which people deal with what they normally could not handle.
Another entry into Streetcar, taken by Donald Spoto, is a battle of new South versus old South ideals.