The Glass Menagerie

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Themes and Colors
Memory Theme Icon
Abandonment Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Glass Menagerie, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Abandonment Theme Icon

The male characters in the play all abandon Amanda and Laura. The father, whom we never see, has abandoned the family: he worked for the telephone company and “fell in love with long distances.” The traumatic effect of this abandonment on Amanda, and Amanda's resulting fear about her own helplessness, is clear in her relentless quest for Laura to gain business skills and then to marry. Jim’s abandonment of Laura forms the play’s dramatic climax: the Wingfield's (not to mention the audience) hope against hope that somehow he will stay, though there is always the sense that he cannot, even before the glass unicorn shatters. Tom, meanwhile, spends the entire play in tension between his love for his mother and sister and his desire to pursue his own future, thus abandoning his family. Yet, at the same time, Tom has in some sense already abandoned Amanda and Laura before the play has even begun, since the entire play is actually his memory of the past.

But does Tom really abandon his family? Even though he leaves them physically, the fact that he remembers them through the act of creating the play indicates that he has never entirely left, that in leaving them he paradoxically became closer to them, more deeply connected to them. He left them, but in the play he also immortalizes them, transforms Amanda and Laura into a kind of glass menagerie of his own. “Oh Laura, Laura,” he says at the play’s end, “I tried to leave you behind, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!”

Abandonment ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Abandonment appears in each scene of The Glass Menagerie. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
How often theme appears:
Scene length:
Get the entire The Glass Menagerie LitChart as a printable PDF.
The glass menagerie.pdf.medium

Abandonment Quotes in The Glass Menagerie

Below you will find the important quotes in The Glass Menagerie related to the theme of Abandonment.
Scene 1 Quotes

There is a fifth character in the play who doesn’t appear except in this larger-than-life-size photograph over the mantel. This is our father who left us a long time ago. He was a telephone man who fell in love with long distances...The last we heard of him was a picture postcard...containing a message of two words: “Hello—Goodbye!”

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker), Mr. Wingfield
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)

...they cultivate other things to make up for it—develop charm—and vivacity—and—charm! That’s all you have to do! [she turns again to the photograph] One thing your father had plenty of—was charm!

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Amanda Wingfield, Mr. Wingfield
Scene 4 Quotes

Oh, I can see the handwriting on the wall as plain as I see the nose in front of my face! It’s terrifying! More and more you remind me of your father! He was out all hours without explanation—Then left! Goodbye! And me with the bag to hold.

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Tom Wingfield, Mr. Wingfield
Scene 5 Quotes

No girl can do worse than put herself at the mercy of a handsome appearance!

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield
Scene 6 Quotes

Gone, gone, gone. All vestige of gracious living! Gone completely! I wasn’t prepared for what the future brought me.

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker)

A telephone man who—fell in love with long-distance! Now he travels and I don’t even know where!

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Mr. Wingfield
Scene 7 Quotes

Things have a way of turning out so badly.

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker)

Go, then! Go to the moon—you selfish dreamer!

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Tom Wingfield

I didn’t go to the moon, I went much further—for time is the longest distance between two places.

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker)

Not long after that I was fired for writing a poem on the lid of a shoe-box. I left St. Louis.

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker)

I descended the steps of this fire escape for a last time and followed, from then on, in my father’s footsteps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space. I traveled around a great deal. The cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves that were brightly colored but torn away from the branches.

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker), Mr. Wingfield

The window is filled with pieces of colored glass, tiny transparent bottles in delicate colors, like bits of a shattered rainbow. Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes. Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield

For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura—and so goodbye...

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield