Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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The Bed Symbol Icon
One of the main features of the set, the bed reminds the audience of all the sexual tension and marital strife that exists throughout the play. As Big Mama says, the rocks of Margaret and Brick’s marriage lie in that bed. Margaret sleeps there alone at night, as Brick avoids the area and stays on the couch. The very last struggle at the end of Act III takes place around the bed, as Margaret snatches Brick’s pillow up from the couch and places it on her territory, the bed. Additionally, Margaret and Brick are staying in the bedroom of the previous plantation owners, Jack Straw and Peter Ochello, and the ghost of the relationship between those two men hints at the homosexual tension Brick tries so hard to avoid and deny throughout the play.

The Bed Quotes in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Bed. 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

Maybe that's why you put Maggie and me in this room that was Jack Straw's and Peter Ochello's, in which that pair of old sisters slept in a double bed where both of 'em died!

Related Characters: Brick (speaker), Margaret, Big Daddy
Related Symbols: The Bed
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

Furious after Big Daddy suggests that Brick and Skipper may have been gay, Brick references Jack Straw and Peter Ochello, the (semi-openly gay) couple who owned the plantation before Big Daddy did. He seems to view the two with contempt, and accuses Big Daddy of putting him and Maggie in that room in order to imply that Brick himself is gay. 

Although Jack Straw and Peter Ochello seem to have been a committed and loving couple, whom Big Daddy remembers with fondness, Brick has nothing but disgust for the two men. This violent reaction can be read one of two ways: either Brick deeply resents that everyone around him thinks that he is gay, or he actually is gay and has reacted so dramatically out of repression and self-loathing. 

Brick's sexuality remains ambiguous throughout the play, but it is clear from passages like this one that he finds homosexuality deeply disturbing, and has none of the (surprising) tolerance that his father displays. 


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Act 3 Quotes

And so tonight we're going to make the lie true, and when that's done, I'll bring the liquor back here and we'll get drunk together, here, tonight, in this place that death has come into….

Related Characters: Margaret (speaker), Brick
Related Symbols: The Bed, The Console/Liquor Cabinet/Hi-Fi
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:

Having announced to the family that she is pregnant, Maggie now admits to Brick that she has lied. Still, she asserts, they can "make the lie true" by sleeping together; and to sweeten the deal, she promises to bring him more alcohol afterwards. 

Once again, both the best and the worst parts of Maggie's character come through in this moment. She intends to sleep with her deeply intoxicated husband, and is using his alcoholism to make her offer more appealing. Furthermore, she has lied to a dying man, with absolutely no assurance that her lie (her pregnancy) will come true.

At the same time, it is difficult not to admire Maggie in this moment. Although she has lied, her lie has helped to drive "death" out of the house, replacing it with at least a semblance of joy and life. She also truly believes that resuming their sex life, and conceiving a child, will help to redeem her depressed husband--a belief that may be deluded, but is also deeply understandable. 

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The Bed Symbol Timeline in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Bed appears in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Unrequited Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Difficulty of Communication Theme Icon
...Brick started drinking after he got married. She asks whether Margaret makes Brick happy in bed, to Margaret’s indignation. Pointing at the bed, Big Mama that when a marriage goes on... (full context)