RECONSTRUCTION

By Trudy A. Martinez

According to The American College Dictionary to reconstruct means to construct again; to rebuild; make over. What happens in the South following the Civil War does not meet the definition of reconstruction.  It is only a means of pacifying the guilt of those who originally profit from the slave trade. The actions they take are calculating, necessary moves that prove profitable, once again, for the North, the rich, and the rising upper-middle-class, the bourgeoisie, allowing their entrance into Industrialization. It is a means of gain from the misfortune of the southerners, the poor whites, and the blacks; a means of appeasement; an influx of Hope; a road block to revolution.

History dictates, as long as there is Hope for a better future, the common people will accept the hard times and the struggle to obtain and improve their status. How else can the government justify its action of freeing the salves, while at the same time, breaking the promise of 40 acres and a mule? The blacks are left with nothing more than the Hope of achieving a better tomorrow at the mercy of their previous owners, the Southern Elite.

The Freedman Bureau, a token agency (backed by the government, influenced by the rich, but yet, limited), was expected to achieve the impossible. From the beginning, the bureau has three strikes against it; it offers only hope and token justice by controlling the impersonal forces that determine history. One can only wonder if this is why President Lincoln, the role model for the common man, lost his life. Was the President’s death also determined by of one of those impersonal forces upon history? Did Lincoln make his strategy for reconstruction of our torn country known to the wrong people? These are questions for which we may never find the answers? Violence and a strong middle-class objection always pave the way for change in America, that is, when the change does not benefit the rich and the upper-middle-class.

In America (the land of the free, the government of the people), freedom is never a problem, or is it? Does a government of the people mean all the people: the common people, the blacks too? In 1865, is freedom a myth?

Guilt and restitution for the sins of the past alone does not free the slaves; it is a combination of greed and the desire to follow the footsteps of our mother county, England, into the Industrial Revolution. The slave trade is not just a source of guilt, but also a hindrance to progress placed on society by the greed of the past Northern Elite. The slaves only need to be free, no longer owned like cattle or a piece of property. What happens to the slaves after they are free is of no real concern to the Northern elite. True freedom is a luxury of the rich; one can only acquire freedom through status, prestige, or money; it is not a common man’s commodity.

Look at our past, the evidence is there. Our government is not a government of the people, at least not the common people, as the government wants us to believe; instead we are a government of the rich, the prestigious, the corrupt, the greedy, and the bourgeoisie. Our government is governed by the desires and whims of the rich. The common people are not a concern of the government until their Hope begins to fade; threats of revolution are in evidence by violence, loss of lives, and the voice of the middle-class objections are heard loud and clear.

Our sense of Nationalistic thinking begins with the birth of our flag, the red, white, and blue, signifying the blood, sweat, and tears of our fore fathers who win freedom from our mother country, England; they establish our Constitutional government, our Republic, by which the freedom of all the people are insured and protected. With this Nationalistic thinking, the common people are programmed to think they are unique, free, equal, and that truth and justice prevail; they are one nation, with a common goal. That thinking remains true until the north desires to enter venture into the industrialization of America. Then our common goal is obliterated.

The South didn’t cooperate. The South didn’t want to progress; it was enjoying all the advantages of slavery; it didn’t want to change; its goals differ. The violence of the Civil War is necessary before change can occur to achieve the desires of the Northern rich, to progress, to go forward, and to increase their wealth. The rich control the government; they want change only if it is beneficial to them, not when they pay a cost. The Civil War is a disagreement between the Southern rich and the Northern rich. In America, the rich grow richer at the expense of the poor, the working class, the common man, and the ethnic groups. The more blood, sweat, and tears the common man sheds, the wealthier the rich become. With the emancipation of the slaves, the Northern rich can induce the government into establishing a (forced) public education system. This education of the masses is a necessity for progress (if Industrialization is to occur) and for the rich to prosper from it.

When it becomes evident the common people are more than eager to learn, not only does education need controls, but also limits to and for those segments of society that are to become the working class of the Industrialization. The schools brain-wash the minds of the people by increasing the Nationalistic theme, i.e., to become one, together, with one goal, to increase the wealth of the nation, to build on the American Dream (the programmed dream: as long as we try, work hard; we will get ahead), a new article of faith, a myth. The owners of the means of production and progress keep it that way (a myth) by resisting payment of the true value of labor and by not sharing the wealth with those who make it possible for them to obtain it.

The Industrialization of America is a boom for the rich. They justify their mistreatment of the working class, depriving them of the fruits of their labor, through the practice and acceptance of Social Darwinism (survival of the fittest).

The American government, the government of the people, during times of trouble, during hard times, turns its back on the needs of the common people, the working classes, i.e., the poor whites, the blacks, the Hispanics, the women, and the children. While simultaneously denying the acceptance and practice of the theories of Darwinism, the government allows the unjust practices of industry whose roots are in the theories of Social Darwinism. Why? Because, the theories and practice of “Social Darwinism” allow for a natural selection of the fittest, justifying the actions of the rich by allowing them to capitalize at the expense of the working class, the common people. Masses of wealth accumulate, as a result. So much wealth accumulates that the rich find it necessary to plan their next greedy step into what they refer to as progress, Imperialism.

In conclusion and in my opinion, to reconstitute the government would have been better solutions in 1865, i.e., reconstruct the government, not just the South, but the North as well. The radicals could have gotten the backing of the masses, but fear stood in their way. Fear of revolution like the one unleashed in France in the year 1797. The radicals chose compromise at the expense and suffering of all future generations instead of facing the enviable, the necessity of change, i.e., of defining “freedom”, of defining “the government of the people” and achieving a real government of the people, the common people, all the people. Through the ending of injustice, invoking controls on the greedy, forcing “the owners of the means of production” to pay the true value of the labor and thereby, alleviating the unnecessary blood, sweat, and tears of the working classes, the aim of a government for all the people may achieve. One can only envision the outcome of what such a change might mean to America, i.e., utopia, little or no unemployment, rapid growth, and increased stability, a sense of pride surpassing the Nationalistic theme that gives a sense of false pride and of false reality.

Regardless, America achieves what no other country has ever accomplished: We remain strong and resolute irrespective of our faults. And we will continue to do so as long as we have Hope.

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Only Those Who Obey

Posted on June 21, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

The Bakersfield Californian reports (In 1994) that INS wants the news of deporting illegal Chinese immigrants kept quiet so mass crowds will not gather.

Am I supposed to believe deporting illegal immigrants will offend me and thus offended, I might protest?  Not I.

When are officials going to learn hiding the truth brings out the masses, not telling the truth?

If I come out, my reason will be to cheer them on, not to yell protests.

Immigrants need to know, only those who obey the laws are welcome and those who do not are not.

It is as simple as this: Crossing the border illegally is against the law; this action alone (crossing illegally) shows you are not worthy to be here!  Illegal aliens must stop; they must leave; and if they don’t leave on their own, we must deport them.

Current actions reflect the deporting of only those who disobey the laws after they cross the border.  This is not enough.  It does not send the correct message. It does not send a strong enough message!

In my opinion, what should happen when they protest (like the 500,000 did), the army should gather them up and take them right then back across the border.  They are not citizens!  (They do not have the same rights as citizens, nor should they be afforded the same rights.)  When they come out in force, they should be met with force!  And they should all be immediately deported!

Immigrants (who are legal) help to make this country prosper.  Legal immigrants are wanted. Illegal immigrants game the system; they cost the taxpayers billions each year (6 billion annually in California alone) Illegal immigrants are NOT wanted.

I say, “Legal you’re okay!”  “Illegal?  Go home! We don’t want you to stay!”

Tales of Mom 13

 

Babies Bring Families Together

 

After the birth of his son, George Richard, Terry grows up some. He takes notice of his responsibility. He rents a larger apartment at street level. He surprises Nellie with the news; she is overjoyed. No more stairs to climb up and down with the baby. What a relief. Family members visit them to see the new addition to the family.

 

Peg visits nearly daily either before or after work, helping out when and where she can. Peg is so proud of her nephew, George Richard. (Nellie names him after her Pa, George) “Such a formal name for such a little guy,” Peg tells him. “I think I am going to call you Dickie, she continues. “Your granddad’s name is David; everyone calls him Dick. He’ll be here tomorrow. It will thrill him to know at least his nickname is being carried on. “ (There is an obvious unspoken resentment rising up here because the first born is named after Nellie’s Pa instead of Terry’s Dad) She holds Dickie (George) up so he can see her and says, “I am your Auntie! My name is Aunt Peg,” she hesitates momentarily, “Well,” she continues, “You can call me Aunt or Auntie Peggy, little man. But I am going to call you Dickie.”

Nellie remains quiet. Nellie believes,  “There is no sense in stirring up a hornet’s nest.”

 

“Nellie,” Peg says changing the subject abruptly, “Don and I are thinking of going our separate ways. He wants to settle down. I don’t. He wants kids. I can’t. He says we can adopt, but I don’t want to.” She says. “Don’s got his bags packed. He will be heading back to Texas and if his old girl friend is still single.” She continues, “He is going to hook up with her when our divorce is final. That is okay by me. We will still remain friends forever.”

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(Don is packed and ready to return to Texas)

 

“Nellie, I figure you can have the kids for both of us. I get them on holidays and vacations. You get them the rest of the time. How does that sound?”

 

Nellie remains quiet.

 

“Someone’s at the door, Nellie. I bet it is my dad; he is always early. Don’t bother to get up. I’ll answer it for you,” Peg says.

 

Peg goes to the door. Sure enough, it is her Dad.

 

“I hear I am a Grandfather,” he says as soon as the door opens. “It is about time. I was beginning to wonder if I’d be getting any of those. Good work, Nellie. Where is my grandson?”

 

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(Nellie Mae, Peg, George Richard (Dickie), David (Dick) and Betty)

 

 

Nellie wonders, “What kind of family have I married into?”

Thinking to herself, “Ma and Pa only be married to each other. When they marry, it is till death do them part.” She wonders why it is not the same for everyone else. “When I marry, I say vows. I mean what I say. I expect my husband mean what he say – in sickness, in health, till death do us part.”

Peg now be losing her second husband, willingly. Her Dad and her Ma both go their separate ways. Betty is her Dad’s girlfriend. Peg’s Ma is going to marry again. What am I to think of this? Perhaps, it is not my place to wonder. I can hear my children someday asking: ‘Why do I have so many grandmas and grandpas?’”

“I don’t want to have to answer that question.” She says.

 

“I am home.” Ted announces when he comes in the door. “I’ve got good news,” he says as he tosses his hat over the hat rack; it spins on the hook, but stays.  “Nellie, I got a new job.”

 

“You do?” She asks.

 

“I do.” He answers. “You’ll be proud to know I’ll be driving the line.”

 

“The Line?” She asks.

 

“The streetcar line,” he adds. “It pays better than I am getting laying bricks. And it is much easier on my back.” He stands back a ways so Nellie can get a full view and then asks, “How you like my uniform?”

 

“You’re looking good,” Peg answers.

 

“Not bad at all,” Betty adds.

 

“Be proud, son,” his Dad says.

 

“The uniform looks good on ya. Ya gots ya own change handler too. I likes ya cap ya throws over there,” Nellie says. “You’re a handsome man, Terry,” She adds. “Just don’t let dat comment go to ya head.”

 

This job has promise. It is steady; that is very important, especially if you have children. There are too many layoffs in other jobs. You don’t see so many layoffs in public transportation. People rely on public transportation when they cannot afford to keep up a car and its expenses.

 

Other things are weighing heavy on Nellie’s mind right now. She thinks she is again pregnant. George (Dickie) is going on seven months; having another baby so soon after his birth is not the best thing for Nellie; her body has yet to heal from the first.  As a family, they are just getting their feet on the ground. Terry’s new job will help a lot with the upcoming extra expenses, if her suspicions turn out to be correct. She can’t share her thoughts until she is for sure.

 

Nellie cooks dinner for everyone; they share a meal. And then the company excuse themselves. Granddad and Betty stay at Peg and Don’s for the night; they will be back on the road in the morning. They are heading in the same direction as Don; they decide to caravan their trip to help each other out if need be. They leave to go to Peg and Don’s first . Peg says, “I will follow shortly. First, I have some news I must share with Nellie and Terry.”

 

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Peg says, ”I’ll be breaking up housekeeping for a while. I’ll be bringing over some things I can’t carry with me”. She says, “I’ll be getting down to one or two suitcases. I took a job with Greyhound.” She explains, “I pass the driving test. I’ll be driving their big Greyhound bus across the U.S.A. I am so excited.” 

 

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“When I am on this side of the country, I will be dropping in to visit,” she says. “I’ll bring over what furniture we have. You can use some,” she adds. “I’ll send some pictures of me in my uniform when I am on the road.” She reaches over and gives Nellie a hug and kisses Dickie on the cheek, “See you brother,’’ she says to Terry. “Goodbye.”

 

Peg spends a day moving over her excess for Nellie to use. She makes it down to the two suitcases. She will be taking those with her on the bus. She leaves her car at their house. Peg hands Nellie the keys telling her, “You can use my car at your discretion, but I get it back when I come to visit.”

 

“Okay.” Nellie answers.

 

A few weeks pass. The mailman drops a letter through the letter slot on the front door. It is from Peg. Nellie rushes to open it. She didn’t send a letter, just a few pictures.

 

 

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(Peg on the road with Greyhound)

 

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(Peg on the road with Greyhound)

She is looking good.

 

In the meantime, Terry starts a spending spree. Instead of buying groceries and paying some household expenses with his first new paycheck, he splurges and rewards himself with a complete set of expensive golf clubs, bag, and all the little extra things that look good but you don’t really need.

 

The game itself is expensive to play if you do not earn that much. And the expense of the game takes away from the family expenses which by all rights should take priority. Terry doesn’t think that way. In Terry’s mind, he comes first. Nellies must make do and do her best with what is left. Golfing is his avenue of escape; his only pleasure. After all, he stops drinking. He leaves other women alone. He likes to let Nellie believe he is doing this on his own. But in actuality, he doesn’t want to go to jail as the Judge promises him he will do if he does not straighten up and fly straight (if you know what I mean). He figures if he spends one day a week on golfing that will be okay. Nellie knows how to pinch the pennies. She can make do with what she is given; she always has. Now is no different. That is what Terry tells himself. That is the way Terry thinks.

 

A letter came from Don. He makes it back to Texas okay. He finds his old girlfriend. He sends his love and a picture of him and his girl.

He says to be sure and tells Peg, “As soon as the divorce is final, I am marrying her and we are going to start making us a family. If Peg’s Greyhound bus ever comes up this way and lays over, tell her to be sure and stop and visit, if she can.”

 

 

 

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(Don and his soon to be wife)

Tales of Mom (11): The Good News and the Bad News

By Trudy A. Martinez

Peg meets Don outside when he gets off work. She tells him what is transpiring. And she tells him, “Nellie is pregnant with her first baby.”

Instead of allowing her to finish her ranting, Don butts in. saying, “Terry has a warrant out for his arrest”. Don takes a deep breath and then continues, “He did not spend the night at the camp; he took off.” Again he takes a deep breath, “He didn’t leave alone.” He hesitates momentarily. “He was with a 16 years old girl,” he blurts out quickly. “They left for parts unknown according to camp officials”, he explains.

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“Her daddy has his gun in hand, thinking there is going to be a shotgun wedding. If her daddy catches up with Terry before the sheriff,” Don says rubbing his chin, “You may be planning a funeral.” Don says under his breath, “I pray he does not kill him.”

Don and Peg decide: Don will go out looking for Terry. When he finds him, he will contact Peg. They pay the rent for the month. And they shop for groceries, purchasing plenty of food to stock them for the month. Then, he says, “We can decide what to do next when that time comes.”

Don sets out in Peg’s car the next morning, leaving the convertible for the women, as it is more comfortable.

Weeks go by without word. They work some when work is available. Nellie and Peggy decide to take a walk down to the river. Peggy looks around. They are alone. She decides to live dangerously. She strips down to her underwear. “Come on Nellie; join me in the water, “Peggy says.

“I don’ts want to drown!” Nellie exclaims.

“Come on! You won’t drown,” Peg reassures her.

Nellie shakes her head no and tells her, “No! I don’ts swim.”

Peggy jumps in. “Come on Nellie, it is not deep. Join me.”

“No!” Nellie replies firmly.

Nellie remembers when Pa tries to teach her to swim. It still terrifies her when she thinks of it. Pa picks her up and throws her in the river just as he does with all the others kids. He says, “Kick your feet and paddle your arms. That will keep you afloat.”

Nevertheless Nellie goes under. She panics. She does not kick. She does not paddle. She sinks to the bottom. Nellie allows fear to get the best of her and does not do as she is told.

Pa screams at her, “Kick, paddle!” All the while, Pa is taking off his clothes. Then he jumps in to save her. Since then, Nellie panics at the mere sight of water.

Peggy splashes the water up on the bank where Nellie is sitting. She screams and jumps up. “Don’t”, she cries out. “I am scared of da wat’r!”

In the meantime, Don catches up with Terry in San Diego. He is working at the shipyards. He tries to join the service, but does not pass the physical. They rate him a 4F, meaning he is not fit for duty. The young girl is with him.

Don says to Terry as soon as he can get him alone, “There is a warrant out for your arrest.” He adds,”Don’t you have a lick of sense, man?” Don tells him, “It can be quite serious since you crossed the state line with her.” He adds, “You need to lose her! Now! Put her on a bus heading back to her father,” he tells him. “You’re crazy to keep her with you anymore.”

Terry ignores Don’s pleas.

“You are a married man, Terry. You are not single! You cannot marry her. Besides,” he adds, “Her daddy’s going to kill you. Ditch her. Cut your losses, before you are arrested.”

Terry ignores him.

When the girl comes in the room, she starts hanging all over Terry.

Don stands up to leave, telling him, “I will see you later. Think about what I said, Terry”.

Don finds a phone and calls the property owner back where the girls are staying and leaves a message for Peggy to call him back at the payphone at 7:00 o’clock; he will be waiting for her call.

When Peggy calls back, he tells her where they are and that the girl is still here with Terry and that he will be working on getting the girl on a bus heading back to her father.

“In the meantime, Peggy, you and Nellie pack up and head out here,” he says. “Call me every night at 7:00 o’clock to let me know where you are. I love you and take care with your driving.”

Peggy and Nellie set out in Don’s car.

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(This is a picture of Don’s car. Nellie is sitting in the front. That is Don. The picture is taken before this trip they are on now.)

When they leave, the top is down, allowing the heat from the sun’s rays to warm their bodies. Later however, a chilly breeze comes up, requiring them to halt to keep from freezing. Both Nellie and Peggy try to get the top up, but, the top will not budge. They lack the strength to force it. Anxious as they are to reach their destination, they decide to continue driving all night, if need be, regardless of the weather.

To keep warm, they retrieve Nellie’s quilts from the trunk. Laying one quilt over their lap and wrapping another around their head and shoulders like a cape, they continue on their way.

The highlight of their trip takes place outside of San Diego on a hill or mountain with an elevation of 6,000 ft. It is freezing cold. It is Middle-of-the-night. The automobile brakes go out. Peg (as stubborn as she is) is determined to make it down that hill, brakes or not.

Therefore, she takes the remainder of Nellie’s quilts and throws them over Nellie’s head. Peggy says, “Keep your head down!” Then, Peggy takes off down the mountain without any brakes.

At the bottom of the hill, Peggy pulls into a gas station for brake fluid and directions to the address Don gave her.

The attendant tells her,” it is going to take more than just fluid, Miss. There is a bad leak. The liquid is just going right through.” He wipes his greasy hands on a rag. Then he continues, “I will not be able to get a new hose line until morning after the parts house opens.” He points to the motel, “I recommend you stay at the motel next door until then.”

Peg and Nellie grab their luggage out of the automobile. “See you tomorrow then,” Peg says.

They walk to the motel. They check in. They rent one room, one bed which they will share. They hit the rack, exhausted.

The next morning after a cup of coffee, they check on the repair of the automobile. “Your automobile is ready,” the attendant reports.

“Thank you,” Peg says. “I really appreciate your quick work on my vehicle. We really need to get moving.” They pay for the repairs. And with the directions in hand, they hit the road again. It is not far to their destination.

Don is sitting on the stoop drinking his morning coffee when they drive up. “Have you had breakfast?” He asks.

“No, we have not yet eaten,” Peggy answers.

Nellie shakes her head to the left and right.

“There is a nice café just around the corner,” Don says. “Wait here, I’ll grab my wallet and treat you to a nice hot breakfast.” Don goes inside.

Don tells Terry, “The girls are here.” He grabs his wallet and hat. “Now,” he says, “Take that girl to the bus station as soon as I leave with Peggy and Nellie.”

“Okay!” Terry exclaims. “She’ll be out of here when you get back.”

The girl puts up a fight and insists she is not leaving. Terry gets her bags, picks her up, and takes her to the bus station and leaves. He arrives back at the apartment shortly before the others return from breakfast.

Within an hour after Nellie and Peggy arrive back at the apartment, there is a knock on the door. Don answers the door. “Is Terry here?” A police officer asks.

“Whose there?” Peggy calls out to Don who had gone to answer the door.

“It is the police. They are looking for Terry. They are here to arrest him”, Don says, “The police have a warrant. Peggy, tell your brother to get his rear-end out here.”

“Okay, will do.” Peggy goes to the bedroom where Terry is laying down. “Get your lazy butt up”, she says, “You’ve got visitors that insist on seeing you now”! She exclaims.

When Terry comes out, the police arrest him on the spot, handcuff him and place him in the back seat of the police car.

Terry learns the girl called her father from the bus depot, telling him Terry’s whereabouts. Her father notifies the police of Terry’s location. Charges are filed. Consequently, the San Diego Police Department issues a warrant for Terry’s arrest.

Nellie and Peggy go to Terry’s arraignment. After hearing Terry’s statement and seeing Nellie’s condition, the Judge makes a decision to release Terry into Nellie’s custody.

The Judge says to Nellie, “If this man so much as looks at another woman, Nellie, you are ordered to contact me personally. Do you understand?” He says.

Nellie Nods.

“He will go to jail quicker than you can snap your fingers. This is the condition for his release to you.” The Judge says, “He is to tow the mark. Do you understand?” He again asks Nellie.

Nellie answers, “Yes.”

“Nellie, you are to tie him to your apron strings. He is to do his duty as a husband and father or he will spend the next 5 to 10 years in jail. Do you understand, Terry?” The Judge stares at Terry.

Terry hangs his head down, Lifts it back up and replies, “Yes, Your Honor, I understand and will abide by your ruling.”

The Judge hit his gavel and exclaims, “Next case!”

You’re No Hero!

Posted on June 21, 2006

The Negative Messages Conveyed Through Advertising

By Trudy A. Martinez

“I’ll never buy another package of Doritos again!”  That is my thinking back in 1994 when I watch attentively as heavy machinery mows down an elderly woman.  In the scene, a group of people look on as a young man (Chubby Chase) comes running toward a gray-hair woman, appearing as if he is about to be her hero.  But instead, he grabs her Doritos!  He leaves her to be knocked down face forward in the muddy dirt and then acts as if he is a hero for saving her Doritos for himself.

The man (Cubby Chase) depicts is not a hero; he is a thief!  An audience watches and this member of the audience is very displeased with the negative message it communicates.  Knowing the same theme goes into millions of Americans homes, angers me.  The effect is not positive like the greedy man tries to convey by saving the Doritos.  The Doritos are not saved!  They are stolen!

In the process of the crime, the victim suffers humiliation.  It doesn’t matter the machinery knocks her down, not the man.  The message transmitted to society is the same as if he had: “It’s all right to steal, if the theft perpetrated is against an elderly woman.”

The Boy Scout assisting the woman after the fact does not make the crime any less of a crime.  This action only persuades the viewers the chore of the next generation will be to pick the elderly out of the gutter that the current generation pushes them into.

A Nail Stuck, An Analysis of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie”

By Trudy A. Martinez

When reading The Glass Menagerie, one feels pity for Tom because his mother mistreat him; this is such a tragedy. She places the entire responsibility of the family upon his shoulders, as if to fulfill a fallacy: There has to be a man in the house if woman is to survive. Time changes with the World War, allowing women to enter the work force. However, Tom’s mother does not work, nor does she seek finding suitable work herself as a means of remedying their situation. Instead, she lives in an imaginary world, wanting her children to remedy the situation for her; she wants only to continue living her fantasy. The picture of the father symbolizes this obsession; it hangs in a most advantageous place: above them all–forever smiling.

The smiling father serves to remind Amanda of a tragic mistake. Yet, it is her “hawk like attention” at the dinner table, driving her son, which mostly catches a reader’s attention. How can anyone eat in peace with someone telling him or her how? “. . . Don’t push with your fingers . . . And chew—chew . . . Eat food leisurely, son” is Amanda’s dinner conversation (Williams 1464). It is surprising; Tom does not get indigestion. One might say, it is the mother’s place to correct her children; but Tom is not a child. Amanda obviously marries beneath her class structure as not many lower class bother to stress “[Eating] food leisurely” (Williams 1464). The lower classes are like slaves to the bourgeois; they are fortunate to have time to eat at all, much less leisurely. Tom refers to being a slave to his mother’s legacy during an argument with her. However, the children’s actions are a constant disappointment and never satisfying to the mother; she pre-judges them as failures. Even so, she is never discourages them from fulfilling goals for her through them.

On the other hand, the opposite is true of her offspring; both Tom and Laura are discouraged. They reject the goals their mother sets. What a tragedy Amanda cultivates through her constant search for perfection from her children. Her aggressive behavior to the fulfilling of her own goals (remaining in the past–her imaginary world– and regaining a higher status) has a reverse effect upon her children. This reflects her constant referral to “gentlemen callers” and through her fear of Tom not attaining higher money earning status and Laura not attaining a money earning status at all. She reminds Laura to “. . . study your typewriter chart . . . [and] . . . practice your shorthand . . .” While at the same time stating”, Stay fresh and pretty” [for men callers]! (Williams 1466). Knowledge is that “. . . aggression given full rein and allowed to run its course in a constant war of all against all, [jeopardizes] . . . survival. . . Clashing interests and social values underlie . . . human conflict” (Vander Zanden 370). Amanda’s clashing interest and aggression is not an exception. Her interest clearly clashes with the interests of her children. She lives only in the memory of her “social roots” where “charm” and an aggressive nature rein in the bourgeois class, a hierarchical structure she secretly wants to re-gain. Nonetheless, by seeking to regain her privilege status through her children, she becomes her own gatekeeper.

When Amanda makes herself the gatekeeper, she becomes susceptible to fate. The theme of The Glass Menagerie is one of vulnerability. What constitutes this concept? When one is vulnerable, are they not both trusting and unsuspecting? This is not the case with Amanda; she is suspicious and non-trusting. She flaunts her suspicious and non-trusting nature in the direction of her son by way of her continual interrogations, assumptions, and comparisons: “I think you’ve been doing things that your ashamed of . . . Nobody in their right minds goes to the movies as often as you pretend to . . . You remind me of your father [gone]” (Williams 1478-1492). Therefore, considering her vulnerable cannot be because of any action of Tom’s. His action only brings about the inevitable.

The inevitable came only after imagination came into conflict with reality. The breaking of the glass unicorn symbolizes the shattering of imagination by reality. Jim, the only realistic character in the play, is the one who bears a message of truth. He says, “Being disappointed is one thing and being discouraged is something else” (Williams 1498). However, it is not until the unicorn loses its horn that Laura is able to accept the Glass Menagerie for what it is: a collection of ornaments. The glass pieces represent an imaginary world where she is willfully imprisoned. At this point, her disappointment no longer discourages her. She is accepting of the realization that not only is the unicorn now like all the other glass ornaments but she is like everyone else. She is no longer a failure as her mother describes; she does not need to rely on imagination or deception to feel she is special. Her mother implies, “All pretty girls are a trap, a pretty trap, and men expect them to be” (Williams 1486). Laura’s perception of the situation differs. She acknowledges the difference when she says, “Maybe [breaking the unicorn’s horn off] is a blessing in disguise” (Williams 1502). Then later, she gives the unicorn that has lost its uniqueness to Jim as a souvenir.
Not long before, her brother gives Laura a souvenir, “. . . a shimmering, rainbow-colored scarf . . . Tom had told her that it was a ‘magic scarf’.” All “You [have to do is] wave it over a gold-fish bowl and they [will] fly away canaries…” (Williams 1474).

The goldfish bowl is symbolic of the life Tom and Laura live in “human desperation” (Williams 1463) under the unchallenged hierarchy of their mother. Whereas, the “fly away canaries” suggest both Tom and Laura can turn into songbirds and fly away to escape from their mother’s tyranny. All it will take to make it happen is for Laura to wave the “magic scarf”. However, had Laura waved the scarp when she emerged from her imaginary world or Had Tom flew away too soon?

Tom shares with Laura his desire to leave so she is aware of his intent; she does not become vulnerable because he leaves. Instead, Tom is the vulnerable one because he flies away like a songbird without facing reality. He does not learn that “So long as boundaries and hierarchies go unchallenged, aggression is inhibited” (Vander Zanden 371). Tom is too trusting and unsuspecting of his own purpose. Therefore, he is unable to take an aggressive stand in his own freedom. Consequently, he becomes “. . . lost in space–” (Williams 1507).

In Tom’s time space, his memories pursue him and his imagination takes control. The most amazing thing he sees is when a magician “. . . got [himself] out of the coffin without removing one nail”. Tom wants to do the same. He tells Laura, “. . . it don’t take much intelligence to get yourself into a nailed-up coffin . . . But who in hell ever got himself out of one without removing one nail?” (Williams 1474).

There is the constant reminder of his father’s smiling face that serves as a reminder: “If there is a will, there is a way”. Even so, did Tom find the way by leaving when he did? Alternatively, does he carry on the family legacy? He appears to have a nail stuck in his heart, which keeps him imprison in a coffin (a trap) of his own making, an imaginary world where he envisions the “tiny transparent . . . ‘colored glass’ . . . bottles . . . [as] . . . bits of [his] shattered rainbow”(Williams 1507). The shattered rainbow is symbolic of the “magic scarf” he gives Laura. His mother tells him he manufactures illusions! (Williams 1507). Yet, he does not challenge her position.

Consequently, he follows in her footsteps manufacturing illusions just as she did. As a result, he makes his own tragic mistake. If this is not the case, why does he continue to search for escapes or “–anything that [can] blow . . . out [the memories of Laura] “? (Williams 1507). The memories of Laura remind Tom of his tragedy just as the picture of his father’s smiling face serves to remind his mother of her own.

Work Cited

Williams, Tennessee. “The Glass Menagerie”. The Bedford Introduction to Literature.Michael Meyer, ed. Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press: Boston. 1990. 1462-1507.
Vander Zanden, James W. Social Psychology. Fourth Edition. Ohio State University. Random House: New York. 1987.