A Streetcar Named Desire: Novel Summary: Scene 8
Stanley, Blanche and Stella are finishing the dismal birthday supper. Blanche says this is the first time she has ever been stood up, and she tells a joke to try to cheer them all up. Stanley then reacts badly to a remark of Stella’s and sweeps his cup and saucer to the floor, then goes outside for a cigarette. Blanche has guessed that Stanley has told Mitch something bad about her, and she calls Mitch and leaves a message. Stella goes to the porch and reproaches Stanley. Back in the kitchen, Blanche regrets having called Mitch, and Stanley gets annoyed again because Blanche calls him a Polack. The phone rings and Blanche hopes it is Mitch, but it is a friend of Stanley’s. Stanley then presents Blanche with an envelope as if it is a birthday present. Inside is the bus ticket. Upset, Blanche rushes to the bathroom. Stella reproaches Stanley once more for his cruelty. She demands to know why he did it. Stanley explains that they were happy until Blanche arrived. Stella then feels her baby moving inside her, and tells Stanley to take her to the hospital.
The recurrence of the Varsouviana polka music at the moment Stanley presents Blanche with the bus ticket has a symbolic significance. It shows that Blanche’s world now collapses as suddenly and as completely as it did when she learned that her husband had shot himself. It is a devastating blow.
There is another reminder in this scene of the nature of the sexual bond between Stanley and Stella. It is this that has been disrupted by the presence of Blanche, separated from them only by a curtain. Stanley refers to sexual pleasure as getting “the colored lights going.”