The Glass Menagerie

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.

Fire Escape Quotes in The Glass Menagerie

The The Glass Menagerie quotes below all refer to the symbol of Fire Escape. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the New Directions edition of The Glass Menagerie published in 1999.
Scene 1 Quotes

The apartment...is entered by a fire escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation.

Related Symbols: Fire Escape
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Scene 5 Quotes

Amanda: A little silver slipper of a moon. Look over your left shoulder, Laura, and make a wish! ... Now! Now, darling, wish!
Laura: What shall I wish for, Mother?
Amanda [her voice trembling, and her eyes suddenly filling with tears]: Happiness! Good fortune!

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire Escape
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Scene 6 Quotes

[Jim] seemed to move in a continual spotlight. ... He was shooting with such velocity through his adolescence that you would logically expect him to arrive at nothing short of the White House by the time he was thirty.

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker), Jim O’Connor
Related Symbols: Fire Escape
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Scene 7 Quotes

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
Related Symbols: Fire Escape
Page Number: 96-97
Explanation and Analysis:

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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
Memory Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
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
Escape Theme Icon
...sends Laura to buy groceries on credit, and as Laura leaves, she slips on the fire escape . (full context)
Scene 5
Memory Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...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)
Memory Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
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
Memory Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
Leaning on the fire escape , Tom tells the audience about Jim. He describes Jim as the high-school hero, captain... (full context)
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...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
Memory Theme Icon
Abandonment Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
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)