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Plot Summary of “The Rose Tattoo” : Act I Scene 1
In front of a small cottage on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, three small children are playing and discussing the weather when they hear their mothers calling them in for supper. Serafina, a striking, voluptuous Sicilian woman, is setting the table for her daughter, Rosa, and husband, Rosario, whom she is expecting any moment. Assunta, an old apothecary, comes in, offering to sell Serafina an aphrodisiac for Rosario. Serafina informs her that they need no such assistance. While they sit and wait, Serafina tells Assunta about how she could tell she was pregnant with the baby she is carrying; Rosario has a tattoo of a rose on his chest, and the morning after the child was conceived, Serafina woke up with a burning pain on her breast and there was a copy of the tattoo on her. From this early point in the plot of “The Rose Tattoo” by Tennessee Williams it is clear that the rose tattoo will have great symbolic significance.
Serafina tells Assunta in one of the important quotes from “The Rose Tattoo” by Tennessee Williams, “I did know, when I seen it, that I had conceived, that in my body another rose was growing!”(Williams, 5). Assunta chides skeptically at Serafina, who insists that her husband is of Sicilian nobility. Assunta simply mocks her, saying, “in Sicily everybody’s a baron that owns a piece of land and a separate house for the goats!” (6). It is revealed through their conversation that Serafina thinks the world of her husband, who smuggles drugs for the mafia under the guise of delivering bananas.
Rosario still has not come home yet, and it is late. Assunta leaves. Estelle, a card dealer at a nearby house of miscellaneous sin, comes in with a bolt of pink silk to make for a man’s shirt. She needs it done overnight, and offers Serafina triple her normal price. She and Serafina talk about the man she is giving it to, a wild man, whom Estelle is in love with, but Serafina says would be intolerable. Just then, the Strega’s goat gets into their yard. The Strega is an old woman with rheumatism in her hands and cataracts in her eyes, who is viewed by her neighbors to be a witch. The Strega and Serafina chase the goat around the yard, with Serafina warning Rosa not to make eye contact with the Strega’s “evil eye”.