a taciturn and stony-faced drunk, Brick is too numb to feel much of anything anymore. His good looks and cool aloofness have won him admirers his whole life, from his own parents to his wife Maggie, despite his inability to reciprocate their affections. Since the death of his friend Skipper, Brick has retreated into a drunken shell, and the only emotions that he can express are disgust and boredom. A rise can still be coaxed out of Brick, however, when he is goaded about Skipper.
Maggie is a vivacious and attractive woman whose curse is a love for a husband who does not love her. Her one driving goal is to get Brick to sleep with her – both to satisfy her own needs, and to allow her to conceive a baby, which would cement her claim to the Pollitt family's fortune. She is deathly afraid of abandonment, both by Brick and by the comfortable lifestyle to which she has grown accustomed. Despite her self-focused interests, she is also kind and warm-hearted.
"Like father, like son," is the rule of the Pollitt family. Big Daddy, like Brick, is the sort of man who inspires admiration and adoration without doing much of anything to deserve it. He worked hard for economic success, and now he wants to enjoy it. He is uninterested in his wife and treats her cruelly, belittling her love and that of his other son, Gooper. He sees himself in Brick, however, and therefore Brick is the only person for whom he feels love.
She is an older version of Maggie – more hysterical, sloppier, needier, having let herself go, but still like Maggie. She loves her husband unconditionally despite his cruelty and indifference. She loves both her sons but she cannot help but prefer Brick, who is so much like his father. Her outbursts are a willful effort to avoid the truth about Big Daddy's health – she is a bit cleverer than she lets on, though not much.
The elder of the Pollitt children by eight years has languished in Brick's shadow since the day his brother was born. While Brick got the attention with looks and football, Gooper married into society and became a successful lawyer. But the continued focus on his ne'er-do-well brother has turned Gooper bitter and mean as well as paranoid, and so it is out of both greed and spite that he actively campaigns for control of Big Daddy's estate.
Gooper's wife has picked up his bitterness and greed, without any of his justifying history. She taunts Maggie's barrenness by parading her own substantial brood around the house, and considers herself to be Maggie's superior both socially and within the context of the Pollitt family. She is indiscreet and petty, and brings out the worst in her husband.
The family doctor shows sensitivity and discreetness, allowing the brothers to make their own decision about when and whether to tell Big Mama and Big Daddy about the patriarch's terminal condition (or, perhaps, shirking that responsibility himself).
The clergyman indelicately makes frequent reference to parish donations and needed repairs while hovering around the Pollitt estate, campaigning for a mention in Big Daddy's will. He displays a particular lack of taste and tact.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The setting for the play is in the cotton plantations in the Mississippi Delta in the 1950's. It is very hot which provides the metaphor for the simmering character and racial conflicts near boiling point in the play.