Sweet Bird of Youth

by

Tennessee Williams

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The Cadillac Symbol Analysis

The Cadillac Symbol Icon

When the Princess agrees to help Chance become famous, she allows him to take her Cadillac for a drive around St. Cloud. When she asks why he wants to do this, he says: “I’m pretentious. I want to be seen in your car on the streets of St. Cloud. Drive all around town in it, blowing those long silver trumpets […].” Saying this, he openly admits that he wants to impress his old friends and neighbors, who talk about him frequently and wonder where he has run off to, since he’s always leaving St. Cloud. Despite his desire to use the Cadillac as a symbol of success, though, people like Scotty—an old friend—see right through his attempt to impress them. Indeed, when Chance and Scotty get into an argument, Scotty says: “I don’t get by on my looks, but I drive my own car. It isn’t a Caddy, but it’s my own car.” In turn, he makes it clear that nobody believes Chance actually owns the Princess’s Cadillac. Because of this, the car doesn’t represent Chance’s newfound success and prosperity—like he wants it to—but rather his irresponsibility and inability to support himself.

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The Cadillac Symbol Timeline in Sweet Bird of Youth

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Cadillac appears in Sweet Bird of Youth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene Two
Youth, Beauty, and Time Theme Icon
Love, Obsession, and Pleasure Theme Icon
...they’ll travel to Hollywood. For now, though, Chance says he’s going to borrow the Princess’s Cadillac because he wants to drive around town to attract attention. (full context)
Youth, Beauty, and Time Theme Icon
Love, Obsession, and Pleasure Theme Icon
...him. Eventually, he breaks their embrace and sets off to drive around in the Princess’s Cadillac while she herself waits in the hotel room, wondering when she’ll see him again. (full context)
Act Two, Scene One
Purity and Corruption Theme Icon
...Just then, a car horn sounds through the air as Chance approaches in the Princess’s Cadillac. (full context)
Youth, Beauty, and Time Theme Icon
Purity and Corruption Theme Icon
Escapism and Denial Theme Icon
...going to “remove” Chance, asking, “How do you want him to leave, in that white Cadillac he’s riding around in, or in the scow that totes the garbage out to the... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Two
Youth, Beauty, and Time Theme Icon
Escapism and Denial Theme Icon
...by on my looks,” Scotty says, “but I drive my own car. It isn’t a Caddy, but it’s my own car. And if my own mother died, I’d bury her myself.”... (full context)
Youth, Beauty, and Time Theme Icon
Purity and Corruption Theme Icon
Escapism and Denial Theme Icon
...Princess keeps telling Chance about what she felt when she saw him driving in her Cadillac, revealing that she experienced a pang of emotion and affection for him. “I felt something... (full context)