A Streetcar Named Desire: Novel Summary: Scene 5

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Blanche and Stella are in the bedroom. Blanche is laughing about the lies she has written in a letter to Shep. They are interrupted by the sound of a quarrel upstairs between Eunice and Steve. Eunice rushes down saying she is going to call the police, although she has no real intention of doing so. Steve comes down looking for her. He has a bruise on his forehead. Stanley, who has just arrived home, says Stella will be at the Four Deuces bar.
Blanche tries to engage Stanley in a discussion about astrology, but he shows little interest. Stanley then reveals he has heard some gossip about Blanche from a man named Shaw, who says he met her in the Hotel Flamingo at Laurel, her hometown. Blanche says the Flamingo is not the sort of hotel she would be seen at, but she is flustered by Stanley’s comment.
As Steve and Eunice return, Stanley goes out to the Four Deuces. Blanche immediately wants to know from Stella what people have been saying about her. She reveals that there was some unsavory gossip about her in Laurel. Stella gives Blanche a Coke with a shot of whiskey in it. Blanche, emotional, promises Stella that she will not be staying long, but Stella tells her not to talk so foolishly.
It transpires that Blanche has been dating Mitch, and he is due to arrive at seven that night. Blanche wants the relationship to develop to marriage so that she will not have to stay with Stella and Stanley any longer. Stella encourages her and then goes to meet her husband.
A young man arrives who is collecting money for the evening newspaper. Blanche flirts with him. He is shy and uncertain of himself. She crosses the room and kisses him on the mouth. As the boy leaves, Mitch appears carrying a bunch of roses.
Analysis
The quarrel between Eunice and Steve reveals a relationship similar to that between Stanley and Stella. Sexual passion is strong, and there are frequent violent outbursts from the man. But they are quickly over and the couple makes up. Both couples seem happy with this uninhibited state of affairs; there is a raw animal vigor about it that satisfies the man and seems to arouse admiration in the woman. It is a kind of sensual paradise for them. Not for nothing is the area in which they live called the Elysian Fields. The Elysian Fields were the happy land in Greek mythology in which those who have found favor with the gods lived forever.
This is in complete contrast to Blanche’s fragility and neuroticism. Each scene reveals more of the real woman behind the façade that she tries so hard to keep up. Her letter to Shep, for example, reveals her as an accomplished liar, although one senses that it is only desperation that drives her to such lengths. The audience is likely to sympathize with her because she has considerable self-awareness about what is happening to her. She reveals this in her confessions to Stella in this scene. She is a highly sensitive, “soft” woman, ill-suited to survive in a harsh world. If she is not to be destroyed, she must somehow shield herself from reality and keep the illusion going, both for herself and others. It is not an easy task.

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