Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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Themes and Colors
Lies Theme Icon
Unrequited Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Difficulty of Communication Theme Icon
Memory, Nostalgia, Regret Theme Icon
Wealth Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Lies Theme Icon

During Brick and Big Daddy’s major confrontation in Act II, Brick confesses that he drinks out of disgust with society’s pervasive “mendacity,” which he describes as the system in which people live. The system of lies he is referring to pertains to the way society represses and lies about “inadmissible things.” In the world of the play, there are two inadmissible things: homosexuality and death, and the action of the play resolves around the repression of Brick’s terror about and repression of his possibly homosexual feelings shared with Skipper and Big Daddy’s desire to escape death and the family’s lie about his health report.

These are not the only lies in the play, either. Mae and Gooper’s behavior during the negotiations also reveals holes in their relationship, despite their desperate façade to appear as a loving, functional unit. Big Mama lies to herself about Brick’s likelihood of transforming into a stable family man once he has a child. Finally, the entire play concludes with Margaret’s final lie when she claims that she is pregnant with Brick’s child. Even after telling this lie, however, Margaret remains in one sense the most honest character in the play, as she’s determined to make this her lie true.

Lies ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Lies appears in each act of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
How often theme appears:
Act length:
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Lies Quotes in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Below you will find the important quotes in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof related to the theme of Lies.
Act 1 Quotes

Hell, do they ever know it? Nobody says, "You're dying." You have to fool them. They have to fool themselves.

Related Characters: Margaret (speaker), Big Daddy

In this way I destroyed him, by telling him truth that he and his world which he was born and raised in, yours and his world, had told him could not be told.

Related Characters: Margaret (speaker)

I'm honest! Give me credit for just that, will you please?

Related Characters: Margaret (speaker)

Yes, I made my mistake when I told you the truth about that thing with Skipper. Never should have confessed it, a fatal error, tellin' you about that thing with Skipper.

Related Characters: Margaret (speaker), Brick

One man has one great good true thing in his life. One great good thing which is true!—I had a friendship with Skipper.—You are naming it dirty!

Related Characters: Brick (speaker), Margaret

Born poor, raised poor, expect to die poor unless I manage to get us something out of what Big Daddy leaves when he dies of cancer!

Related Characters: Margaret (speaker), Brick, Big Daddy
Act 2 Quotes

And I did, I did so much, I did love you!—I even loved your hate and your hardness, Big Daddy!

[…]

Wouldn't it be funny if that was true…

Related Characters: Big Mama (speaker), Big Daddy (speaker)

Think of all the lies I got to put up with! Ain't that mendacity? Having to pretend stuff you don't think or feel or have any idea of? Having for instance to act like I care for Big Mama!—I haven't been able to stand the sight, sound, or smell of that woman for forty years now!—even when I laid her!

Related Characters: Big Daddy (speaker), Big Mama

No!—It was too rare to be normal, any true thing between two people is too rare to be normal.

Related Characters: Brick (speaker)

You been passing the buck. This disgust with mendacity is disgust with yourself. You!—you dug the grave of your friend and kicked him in it!—before you'd face the truth with him!

Related Characters: Big Daddy (speaker), Brick

Maybe it's being alive that makes them lie, and being almost not alive makes me sort of accidentally truthful…

Related Characters: Brick (speaker)
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