Plot Summary of The Glass Menagerie: Scene 3
Tom narrates that after Amanda found out about the business college, she became more obsessed with trying to get a gentleman caller for Laura. He says, “Like some archetype of the universal unconscious, the image of the gentleman caller haunted our small apartment” (37). Since they would need more money to fix up both Laura and the apartment, Amanda took a job selling subscriptions to The Homemaker’s Companion over the phone. Amanda enters, holding the phone. She is on the phone with a fellow DAR woman, Ida Scott, trying to get her to renew her subscription. It becomes apparent that Ida has gotten annoyed, made an excuse, and hung up. The stage goes dark for a moment, and then the lights come up again to show Tom and Amanda in the middle of an argument with Laura standing, mortified, between them.
Tom is generally outraged over the fact that Amanda wishes to exact control over him when he is essentially supporting the three of them working at the Continental Shoemakers. Amanda has gotten rid of Tom’s books, having deemed them filth. As the lights come up further, one can see the typewriter with some of Tom’s writing scattered about. Also during the course of the argument, Amanda questions Tom about where he goes late at night. He insists that he is going to the movies. Amanda does not believe this story, and when she presses him about it, he tells her, “I’m going to opium dens! Yes, opium dens, dens of vice and criminals’ hangouts, mother” (42). His story becomes more and more ridiculous, ending with him calling Amanda an “ugly, babbling old witch!” (42) He hurls his coat across the room in anger, breaking one of the animals in Laura’s menagerie.
Plot Summary of The Glass Menagerie: Scene 4
Tom comes home, drunk, at five in the morning. Laura finds him out on the fire escape, looking for his key. Tom tells her that he has been at the movies, and of course Laura does not believe him either, but compassionately plays along. Tom tells her that after the movies, there was a performance by Malvolio the Magician, who did many different tricks. He could turn water into whiskey, which he gave out to the crowd, and Tom took all he could get. He also gave Tom a magic scarf, which Tom gives to Laura. Finally, he escaped from a coffin without removing any nails. Tom says that he’d like to pull the same trick with his current living situation. The lights dim, and come up again, now a couple hours later. Amanda is having Laura wake Tom up, and they are essentially speaking to one another through her. Laura protests this practice, begging Tom to apologize. Amanda sends her out for butter. While Laura is out, Tom apologizes to Amanda and they start to make amends.
Amanda is still worried about Tom’s lifestyle, and he explains that he is simply living according to his instincts. But Amanda tells him, “Instinct is something that people have got away from! It belongs to animals! Christian adults don’t want it!” (52). She also has seen Tom’s letter from the Merchant Marines. She urges him not to run off until they have found a husband for Laura, and as he rushes off to work, she asks him to find someone at the warehouse to bring home.