The Glass Menagerie

How does Tom react to his family responsibilities?


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Responsibility to Family

The principal tension in the Wingfield family is responsibility – who is accountable for, and to whom. Tom struggles the most with his role as the breadwinner and caretaker of the family, as it keeps him from expressing himself and living his own life. But Amanda also feels the strain of having a daughter that she will always have to care for, and this is the fear that motivates her desperate search for a husband on which to foist Laura. Mr. Wingfield escapes his responsibility by running away without a trace, while Laura, on the other side of the spectrum, is responsible only for her little glass animals, leaving Tom and Amanda to carry the weight. Try as Tom might, this responsibility is not something easily shirked. Although he ceases to be responsible for his family when he leaves them, he never stops feeling responsible to them.