A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, is set in New Orleans, Louisiana. The play begins in the evening, early May of 1947, featuring a two-story corner building on an avenue named Elysian Fields, and ends in late September of the same year.
The United States in 1947, when the play was written and set in, was run by President Harry Truman, post-World War II. Economically the country suffered a financial setback after the war but Americans were optimistic and happy the war was over. President Truman ended segregation in the military. Optimism grew strong so long as there was work and money to bring home.One of the main characters in the play, Polish-American brute Stanley Kowalski is optimistic, about to have a child with his wife and is not rich, but both he and his wife, Stella, are happy with what they have. Their two-room apartment flat shows their financial status.
Political conditions surrounding the play set readers or viewers up for an exciting clash of culture. After the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803, French culture still remained in the south where Napoleon's colonies had to adjust to American culture. The south was Democratic and segregated. Stanley Kowalski mentions the Napoleonic Code of Law in attempt to sound smart and ahead in the game. Although the Code of Law was not applicable anymore in the United States, his statement,In the state of Louisiana we have the Napoleonic code according to which what belongs to the wife belongs to the husband and vice versa.? is a reference of time period and a reminder for the audience and readers that remnants of the French and European culture was still present but ultimately dying against the new American south.
Predominantly French in the south, especially New Orleans, described as acosmopolitan city?. More Europeans tended to accept black people and theintermingling? of races. This is seen immediately in the play as neighbor, Eunice, is standing with a colored woman.