The Glass Menagerie

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Typewriter Symbol Analysis

Typewriter Symbol Icon
For Laura, the typewriter symbolizes the confines of the business world that she escapes by walking in the park or immersing herself in her glass menagerie. For Amanda, the typewriter comes to signify both Laura’s failure to finish her business course as well as Tom’s failure to commit himself more fully to his warehouse job. For Tom, however, the typewriter serves as a means of escape from the confines of his world, as he uses it to compose his manuscripts.

Typewriter Quotes in The Glass Menagerie

The The Glass Menagerie quotes below all refer to the symbol of Typewriter. 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:
Memory Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the New Directions edition of The Glass Menagerie published in 1999.
Scene 2 Quotes

What are we going to do, what is going to become of us, what is the future?

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker)
Related Symbols: Typewriter
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

When Amanda learns that Laura is no longer in secretarial school, the “us” in Amanda’s exclamation to Laura is extremely revealing. Amanda projects herself and her life onto Laura’s decisions. The “us” in Amanda’s sentence represents the way that Amanda often addresses Laura. Instead of saying “you,” which would separate herself and her daughter, she implies through her syntax that Laura does not have any opinions or thoughts of her own that are not somehow mediated through Amanda. Amanda is speaking to Laura about Laura’s revelation that she has quit her typewriting school, and as she interrogates Laura about this choice, the audience learns that she is much more concerned over the impact on herself, not whether or not the decision benefits or hurts Laura.

The “us” is also, therefore, a kind of royal “we.” Amanda turns Laura’s decision into a behavior that has been designed to impact her own life, rather than a choice that Laura made for Laura’s sake. Amanda is very much the center of her universe, and she sees everyone else’s lives as revolving around her own. In Amanda’s point of view, people’s choices are judged on a scale of how much and in what way they impact Amanda’s life. Thus Laura leaving the secretarial school becomes, in Amanda’s perception and Amanda’s narrative, a decision that has the most consequences for Amanda.

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Typewriter Symbol Timeline in The Glass Menagerie

The timeline below shows where the symbol Typewriter appears in The Glass Menagerie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 1
Memory Theme Icon
...the audience first sees the apartment's fire escape, then the living room which features a typewriter, a display case with glass animals, and a blown-up photograph that the stage directions explain... (full context)
Scene 2
Memory Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...puts away the glass figures and pretends to be studying a keyboard diagram at the typewriter. (full context)