Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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Brick’s Crutch Symbol Analysis

Brick’s Crutch Symbol Icon
Brick’s crutch can take on several symbolic meanings. One explanation is that the crutch represents Brick’s dependency on alcohol; he relies heavily on both items to “maneuver” through the play. He also uses the crutch to throw up a defense against Margaret in the first scene, wielding it like a weapon—just like he uses alcohol as a defense against family, drinking to escape the family’s confrontations. The crutch can also symbolize Brick’s nostalgia and longing for the past, since he acquired his injury while jumping hurdles on a high school track field. Finally, critics have also noted that Brick’s crutch represents his sexual power or lack thereof, in the moments when Margaret and Big Daddy take his crutch away or threaten to.

Brick’s Crutch Quotes in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof quotes below all refer to the symbol of Brick’s Crutch. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Lies Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the New Directions edition of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof published in 2004.
Act 2 Quotes

Jumping the hurdles, Big Daddy, runnin' and jumpin' the hurdles, but those high hurdles have gotten too high for me, now.

Related Characters: Brick (speaker), Big Daddy
Related Symbols: Brick’s Crutch
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Demanding and dictatorial, Big Daddy interrupts his own birthday celebration to interrogate Brick, asking his son how he broke his leg. Brick replies that he was attempting to jump the hurdles, as he used to do in high school, but that he's no longer able to.

Throughout Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, characters often wish for past happiness that they have now lost, and this is clearly true in Brick's case. By pretending to be a high schooler again, Brick is reliving when he was in peak physical condition...and returning to a time before he lost his best friend, Skipper. 

Although he seems apathetic and detached, it's clear from Brick's actions that he still deeply longs for a time in his life that has long since past. His inertia stems from his disgust and disappointment with the present, and his desperate desire to return to the happier past. 

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Brick’s Crutch Symbol Timeline in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The timeline below shows where the symbol Brick’s Crutch appears in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Difficulty of Communication Theme Icon
...her, as Margaret informs him that the “laws of silence don’t work.” Brick drops his crutch, and when Margaret tells him to lean on her instead, he loses his temper, yelling... (full context)
Unrequited Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Difficulty of Communication Theme Icon
Memory, Nostalgia, Regret Theme Icon
...and the girls were chaperoning. Brick interrupts the memory, threatening to hit her with his crutch. He says that his friendship with Skipper was the one true thing in his life,... (full context)
Unrequited Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Difficulty of Communication Theme Icon
Memory, Nostalgia, Regret Theme Icon
Brick continues to try to attack Margaret with his crutch as she tells this story. She says that she knows what she did was wrong,... (full context)
Memory, Nostalgia, Regret Theme Icon
...he tried to kill her Aunt Margaret, but failed, and asks Dixie to fetch his crutch for him. Margaret explains that Brick broke his ankle trying to jump hurdles on the... (full context)
Act 2
Unrequited Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Difficulty of Communication Theme Icon
...this talk is like all the others they’ve had, going nowhere. Big Daddy seizes Brick’s crutch and tosses it across the room. Big Daddy continues to talk about his test results... (full context)
Lies Theme Icon
Unrequited Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Difficulty of Communication Theme Icon
...out, sobbing. Brick attempts to hobble towards the gallery again, but Big Daddy takes his crutch again. Big Daddy demands to know why Brick drinks and refuses to return the crutch... (full context)
Unrequited Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Difficulty of Communication Theme Icon
Memory, Nostalgia, Regret Theme Icon
...Skipper to a pair of dirty old men like Ochello and Straw. Brick drops his crutch and falls without noticing the pain, while Big Daddy helps him up, trying to calm... (full context)