Real or Fake The meaning of Tom is "A twin" (www.babynames.com/V5/index.php). Tom has several double roles in The Glass Menagerie. He is the narrator of the play but also a major character. The play is a reoccurrence of what Tom has remembered from his childhood until his early adulthood. The play is not reality. It is a re-enactment of what Tom remembers from his life. So technically, since the events once happened, makes it reality. The "older Tom" tells the story to the audience of what he remembers about the past. The "younger Tom" actually acts out the scenes in the play.
Tom lives in the world of illusion, trying to escape from reality. He dreams of bigger and better things for himself. Tom reads literature and writes poetry trying to dream of a more promising lifestyle. He was fired from his job due to his poetry on a shoebox lid.
Other than poetry, Tom tries other ways of excluding reality by going to movies at night. He also drinks heavily. Tom doesn't like staying at home, because it drags his dreams and spirits down. He always has Amanda bitching at him about something. Amanda says to Tom, "'Honey, don't push with your fingers. If you have to push with something, the thing to push with is a crust or bread. And chew-chew! Animals have sections in their stomachs, which enable them to digest food without mastication, but human beings are supposed to chew their food before they swallow it down. Eat food leisurely, son, and really enjoy it. A well-cooked meal has lots of delicate flavors that have to be held in the mouth for appreciation. So chew your food and give your salivary glands a chance to function'" (Williams 1269). Amanda really comes down on Tom and does not let him get a word in for awhile. Amanda always has something negative to say to Tom. Tom is unhappy with the reality of his life at home, which is why he doesn't come home till late at night. Tom also pays the bills at home, and he is searching for ways to escape that. Tom can find no real way of escape from reality. When Tom watches the coffin trick he realizes that it symbolizes destruction of the family. This is something that Tom does not want to do.
Tom has yet another dual action part in the play. While he is Laura's brother he also acts as the father figure to her. He cares for Laura very much. Tom comes home drunk at the beginning of scene four. Laura awakes to find him at the doorstep. She lets him in the house. She awoke because she was worried about Tom. She also cares for him very much and looks up to him. It is like she is a little girl waiting for her father to come home at night. She wants to know that he is safe. Laura was not able to sleep well she knew that he was at home and safe in the bed. Their father's picture is above the stage. Tom says his final words for that night and then his father's picture lights up. This symbolizes Tom becoming the father figure to Laura.
Jim visits the Wingfield's home to have dinner one night. Tom calls Jim in scene one a representative from the "world of reality" (Williams). Not any of the three Wingfields are in touch with the outside world. When Jim comes over it symbolizes the Wingfields and the audience being exposed to the reality of the real world. Jim does not live in a world of illusions.
Someone she is attracted to gave Laura a nickname. Jim gives her the nickname of "blue roses." The blue roses symbolize that she is unique, since blue roses do not exist. Jim sees her as a very exotic person. Jim's last name is O'Connor. The meaning of Connor is "knowledgeable" (www.babynames.com/V5/index.php). Jim is a very confident person about what he does. He is in touch with reality and realizes what he needs to accomplish. He tries to give some self-confidence to Laura.
Jim and Tom see things in different views. Tom views his job at the warehouse as a drag and something he will not get anything out of. He wants to go to something that is more promising. Whereas, Jim sees it as an opportunity to get his career started. Jim is looking ahead in the future and is going to build on what he has got.
Amanda's name has the meaning of "Worthy of Love" (www.babynames.com/V5/index.php). Amanda is always griping at Tom, and she doesn't have a whole lot of confidence in Laura. Her griping at Tom all of the time is why he does not want to ever come home. Amanda thought of her childhood as her being a "Southern belle." She did not want to accept anything other than that. She thought of herself as being brought up very well in her earlier years, but has done a complete circle as a parent. Amanda is not socially or financially stable. Amanda always thought of men being a very big part of her life. This is why Amanda pushes so hard for Tom to find Laura a man at the warehouse. Amanda's working to sell magazines is also a scheme for her to try and find Laura a man.
She wants a good future for Laura. First, she sent her to school hoping she would meet somebody there. Laura ended up quitting school. Tom finally brings a man named Jim O'Connor home one night for dinner. Amanda does everything she can to try and impress this young man. She dresses Laura and herself up in nice dresses and she fixes an excellent dinner. Amanda does everything she can to try and get Jim and Laura together after dinner. Laura was not able to attend dinner because she felt sick. Jim tries to help Tom do the dishes. Immediately Amanda replies, "Indeed you will not" (Williams 1298). She then tells him, "I'm not exaggerating, not one bit! But sister is all by her lonesome. You go keep her company in the parlor! I'll give you this lovely old candelabrum that used to be on the altar at the church at the Heavenly Rest (Williams1298). Finally she gets Jim and Laura together by themselves. Jim and Laura have a long conversation and even share a little kiss. She had always had a crush on Jim, but just never told him until now. Jim then tells Laura that he is involved with another woman and has to depart. While they danced Jim knocked Laura's glass unicorn off the table and broke it. When Jim leaves Laura gives him the broken unicorn as a souvenir. Without the horn on the unicorn, it is just another horse. By Laura giving the horse the figurine to Jim symbolizes that she is just another girl. When Jim is leaving, Amanda tries to stop him. She does not want the moment to end with Jim and Laura. Amanda says to Jim, "You mean you're a workingman and have to keep working men's hours. We'll let you off early tonight. But only on the condition that next time you stay later. What's the best night for you? Isn't Saturday night the best night for you workingmen?" (Williams). Amanda also tries to set up a second date for her daughter with Jim.
Amanda is trying to secure Laura's future by finding her a husband. She sees good qualities in Jim and hopes that him and Laura can have a relationship together.
The fire escape outside of the Wingfield's apartment symbolizes a way to get out of all the craziness that goes on inside their home. When Laura slips on the fire escape this symbolizes how she is not able to escape from her situation in life. Amanda, Tom, and Laura are all three trying to escape from reality. Amanda is in the most touch with reality. Tom is the only one that cannot find a path to escape, but finally does. His path of escape is through his memory of the events of the play.