Like Tom, whose internal and external worlds continue to collide at almost all times, Amanda regales her children with stories about when she was young, in the process pointing out the various ways in which Laura is a failure as a daughter and Tom is insufficient as a provider. Although this is not necessarily done in a mean way or with deliberate intentions, as she discusses her own days of youth, Amanda continuously points out the various ways in which Laura does not measure up to her expectations. She indicates girls in her time “ knew how to entertain their gentleman callers.
It wasn’ t enough for a girl to be possessed of a pretty face and a graceful figure – although I wasn’ t slighted in either respect. She also needed to have a nimble wit and a tongue to meet all occasions” (I, 148). Amanda’ s preference for living in her internal world is made obvious as the family finishes dinner and Amanda sends Laura out into the family room to prepare for the “ flood, there must have been a tornado” of gentlemen callers prepared to spend the evening vying for Laura’ s attention.
“ Amanda Wingfield can never quite extricate herself from the past in order to come to terms with the flow of life in the present, or what that present bodes for the future. Since the past for Amanda dominates the present, the future is untenable (or untenant-able), in spite of her moments of concern for Laura’ s future” (Bluefarb, 1963: 513). Despite his continuous efforts to provide for the family, Amanda also harps on Tom for his failures to provide both adequate financial support for the family and for not having brought home any ‘ gentlemen callers’ for his sister, failing to realize in the process that Tom is too busy with work and too solitary of a man to have many friends.
In the end, though, she is forced to come face to face with both her children’ s limitations as Laura collapses in tears after Jim’ s departure and then with the running away of Tom.
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