A Streetcar Named Desire: Novel Summary: Scene 10

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Later that night, Stanley returns from the hospital. The baby is not due until the following morning. Blanche, who has been drinking since Mitch left, is wearing a white satin evening gown. She has been packing. Blanche lies to Stanley that she has received an invitation by telegram from Shep Huntleigh to join him on a cruise of the Caribbean on a yacht. Stanley does not believe her but for a while he goes along with her story. Blanche insists that Shep is a gentleman and wants her for companionship. She says that physical beauty passes, but other qualities, such as tenderness and beauty of the mind, grow as a person ages, and she is rich in such qualities. She also tells Stanley that Mitch came back with some roses and implored her to forgive him. Stanley knows this is untrue because he knows where Mitch is. He confronts Blanche with her lies, claiming that he has known from the day she arrived what sort of person she is. He walks into the bedroom although Blanche tells him not to. As he goes into the bathroom, Blanche tries to make a telephone call to Shep Huntleigh. She is trying to leave a message when Stanley emerges from the bathroom in brilliant silk pyjamas. She backs away as he stares at her. She asks him to stand aside so she can get out. But a moment later, he takes a step toward her and she backs into the bedroom. She warns him not to come any further, but he does not take any notice. She smashes a bottle on the table and faces him, clutching the broken top. He grabs her and makes her drop the bottle top. Then he carries her to the bed.
Analysis
This is the only scene in the play that features only Blanche and Stanley. The tension that has been growing between them since the beginning has suggested there may at some point be a nasty confrontation, and this is indeed what happens in this scene. The rape is not shown, and nor is it referred to explicitly in the next scene, but there is no doubt as to what has taken place. Even before the rape, it is clear that Blanche, with the help of liberal amounts of alcohol, has begun her retreat into a fantasy world. Her need for a savior is so great, and now that Mitch can no longer fulfill the role she has to invent someone to take his place. Stanley, as might be expected, brutally shatters all her illusions, and this, together with the physical assault, drives Blanche into a complete mental breakdown.

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