the glass menagerie, talking about the ending of scene 7
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Tom's closing speech, of course, is a peerless and infamous moment. The descending fourth wall puts a powerful but permeable barrier between Tom and his family. They are behind him, behind him in time and in the physical space of the stage. And yet, Tom cannot seem to shake the memory of them, and they are clearly visible to the audience. Although he has never explicitly spoken of one of the play's most important themes - the conflict between responsibility and the need to live his own life - it is clear that he has not been able to shake the guilt from the decision that he made. The cost of escape has been the burden of memory. For Tom and the audience, it is difficult to forget the final image of frail Laura, illuminated by candlelight on a darkened stage, while the world outside of the apartment faces the beginnings of a great storm.