The Glass Menagerie

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Fire Escape Symbol Icon
Tom frequently stands on the apartment’s fire escape, a literal and figurative temporary release from the confines of his daily life. Tom smokes on the fire escape, removing himself from the metaphorical domestic fires by lighting his own flame, which also symbolizes his desire to control his destiny rather than be consumed by his family and his history. His frequent escape to the fire escape foreshadows his eventual departure from the apartment. In contrast, the one time Laura is forced onto the fire escape, she stumbles, emphasizing how inextricably she is bound to life in the Wingfield world.
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Fire Escape Symbol Timeline in The Glass Menagerie

The timeline below shows where the symbol Fire Escape appears in The Glass Menagerie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 1
Memory Theme Icon
...building that faces an alleyway. Through the dim lighting, the audience first sees the apartment's fire escape , then the living room which features a typewriter, a display case with glass animals,... (full context)
Scene 3
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Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
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The words “After the fiasco” appear on the screen. Tom stands on the fire escape and tells the audience that after the “fiasco” at the business college, Amanda has become... (full context)
Scene 4
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
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...sends Laura to buy groceries on credit, and as Laura leaves, she slips on the fire escape . (full context)
Scene 5
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...spring, 1937. Amanda nags Tom about his appearance and his smoking. Tom steps onto the fire escape with his cigarette and reminisces about the Paradise Dance Hall across the street from the... (full context)
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Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
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Amanda joins Tom on the fire escape , and they look at the moon together. They each make a wish on the... (full context)
Scene 6
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Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
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Leaning on the fire escape , Tom tells the audience about Jim. He describes Jim as the high-school hero, captain... (full context)
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...the portieres. Tom explains that Laura is terribly shy. Jim and Tom go onto the fire escape as Tom smokes, and Jim tells Tom to enroll in his course on public speaking. (full context)
Scene 7
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Abandonment Theme Icon
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Tom smashes his drink glass on the floor and bursts onto the fire escape . Inside the house, Amanda holds Laura in her arms, stroking her hair. Tom delivers... (full context)