The Glass Menagerie

Lesson 2

Objective

Students will be able to analyze the playwright’s characterization of the narrator and the members of his family in Scene 1.

Readings and Materials

Target Task

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Question 1

The statement the narrator makes on p. 4, “I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion,” mainly serves to

A.

illustrate that the characters will not tell the truth on a number of occasions.

B.

provide details about the setting and plot of the drama.

C.

emphasize that the characters and the plot are intended to be metaphorical, not literal.

D.

explain that the narrator is a magician and will be doing some slight of hand.

Question 2

Laura’s explanation, “It isn’t a flood, it’s not a tornado, Mother. I am just not popular like you were in Blue Mountain,” mainly serves to

A.

illustrate the unintentional cruelty of Amanda’s character.

B.

question Amanda’s authority and judgment.

C.

explain a surprising change in Laura’s demeanor and behavior.

D.

provide a humorous insight into Laura’s character.

Question 3

In this scene, what decisions does the playwright make that add to unrealistic mood? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.

Key Questions

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  • Poem: What is the central idea of the poem? What does the phrase "Ou sont les neiges" mean in English? Why might the playwright have chosen this phrase to project during the opening scene? What is he conveying through this choice?

  • There are extensive stage directions preceding both the play and the first scene. Because plays are meant to be acted out on the stage, these directions are crucial to uncovering the meaning, mood, and tone of the play. In reading these directions, what do you learn about the setting? The mood?

  • How does the playwright characterize Tom the narrator?

  • How does he characterize Tom the character? What is Tom's tone toward his mother? Evidence?

  • What do we learn about Amanda through her words and actions?

  • What do we learn about her through her reminiscences about gentlemen callers? Are we meant to take these literally? How do you know?

  • What do we learn about Laura? About her relationship with her mother? Her brother?

  • What can we infer about the father based on his postcard? What can we infer about his impact on the family based on the photo on the wall?

Notes

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  • In a performance there would be words up on a big screen throughout. The teacher could consider posting these words in the classroom each day. On this particular day, the initial words on the screen are in French and are a line from the poem students should read as a Do Now today.
  • Having images of a fire escape, glass figurines, etc., might also help students picture the play as it would be performed.
  • Scene 1 includes the words "darky" and "nigger." These racist terms should be addressed. The questions "What do these reveal about Amanda?" and/or "What do they reveal about the setting?" could spark healthy discussion about the terms.
  • Given that this unit is a drama, the teacher could consider including portions of class when students act out parts of the day's reading. This can happen at the beginning of Independent Practice to introduce the day's reading, or it can happen at the conclusion of Independent Practice once students have already pre-read the text.