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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials: The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie is a semi-autobiographical “memory play” written by Tennessee Williams. Set in St. Louis, it tells the story of the Wingfield family (Amanda, Tom, and Laura) and a dinner party they throw to entertain Jim O’Connor, a “gentleman caller” and co-worker of Tom’s who is seen as a potential suitor for Laura.

Laura shows her glass unicorn to Jim in a picture from "The Glass Menagerie". Part of the Qwiz5 series by Qwiz Quizbowl Camp.

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge - patterns that will help you answer more questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on "The Glass Menagerie".


Shakespeare is the nickname that Jim O’Connor gives to Tom Wingfield for his habit of writing poetry while at work.


The prized piece of Laura’s glass menagerie is a unicorn. While dancing with Laura (to music from the nearby Paradise Dance Hall), Jim accidentally knocks the unicorn over, breaking its horn. Afterwards, Laura gives Jim the broken unicorn as a gift.


Blue Roses is the nickname that Jim has for Laura. As a child, she suffered from pleurosis (which Jim misheard as “blue roses”), a disease that has left her crippled, both physically and mentally.


Tom works at a shoe warehouse to support his mother and sister. Lately Jim works at the warehouse also.


Laura was a student at Rubicam’s Business College, a secretarial school but dropped out without telling her mother. She has been going to the zoo to watch the penguins instead.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

* The New Yorker published a scathing review of a 2017 production starring Sally Field. You can read that here.

* Want to read The Glass Menagerie? You can find the full text of the play here.

* You can watch the 1987 film version (starring John Malkovich as Tom Wingfield) below. The dance scene starts at 1:47:00.


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