In a plantation house, a family celebrates the sixty-fifth birthday of Big Daddy, as they sentimentally dub him. The mood is somber, despite the festivities, because a number of evils poison the gaiety: greed, sins of the past and desperate, clawing hopes for the future spar with one another as the knowledge that Big Daddy is dying slowly makes the rounds. Maggie, Big Daddy's daughter-in-law, wants to give him the news that she's finally become pregnant by Big Daddy's favorite son, Brick, but Brick won't cooperate in Maggie's plans and prefers to stay in a mild alcoholic haze the entire length of his visit. Maggie has her own interests at heart in wanting to become pregnant, of course, but she also wants to make amends to Brick for an error in judgment that nearly cost her her marriage. Swarming around Maggie and Brick are their intrusive, conniving relatives, all eager to see Maggie put in her place and Brick tumbled from his position of most-beloved son. By evening's end, Maggie's ingenuity, fortitude and passion will set things right, and Brick's love for his father, never before expressed, will retrieve him from his path of destruction and return him, helplessly, to Maggie's loving arms.
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Tennessee Williams was born in 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi, where his grandfather was the episcopal clergyman. When his father, a travelling salesman, moved with his family to St Louis some years later, both he and his sister found it impossible to settle down to city life. He entered college during the Depression and left after a couple of years to take a clerical job in a shoe company. He stayed there for two years, spending the evening writing. He entered the University of Iowa in 1938 and completed his course, at the same time holding a large number of part-time jobs of great diversity. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1940 for his play Battle of Angels, and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and 1955. Among his many other plays Penguin have published Summer and Smoke (1948), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Camino Real (1953), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Baby Doll (1957), Orpheus Descending (1957), Something Unspoken (1958), Suddenly Last Summer (1958), Period of Adjustment (1960), The Night of the Iguana (1961), The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963), and Small Craft Warnings (1972). Tennessee Williams died in 1983.From School Library Journal:
Grade 10-Up Topics covered in 10 authoritative essays include: the character of Brick, his friendship with Skipper, his relationship with Maggie, homophobia, the author's unseen characters, Williams's treatment of women, the influence of Spanish author Federico Garc'a Lorca, and comparisons to Williams's other works. All chapters contain examples of dialogue from the play followed by interpretation. The book also has a chronology of the playwright's life and a substantial bibliography. Students studying Williams's work will find a wealth of information here. A great purchase for schools with Cat in the curriculum. -Pat Bender, The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA
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