A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire
by
Tennessee Williams
And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice
“The Broken Tower” by Hart Crane
SCENE ONE
The exterior of a two-story corner building on a street in New Orleans which is named Elysian Fields and runs between the L & N tracks and the river. The section is poor but, unlike corresponding sections in other American cities, it has a raffish charm. The houses are mostly white frame, weathered gray, with rickety outside stairs and galleries and quaintly ornamented gables. This building contains two flats, upstairs and down. Faded white stairs ascend to the entrances of both.
It is first dark of an evening early in May. The sky that shows around the dim white building is a peculiarly tender blue, almost a turquoise, which invests the scene with a kind of lyricism and gracefully attenuates the atmosphere of decay. You can almost feel the warm breath of the brown river beyond the river warehouses with their faint redolences of bananas and coffee. A corresponding air is evoked by the music of Negro entertainers at a barroom around the corner. In this part of New Orleans you are practically always just around the corner, or a few doors down the street, from a tinny piano being played with the infatuated fluency of brown fingers. This “Blue Piano” expresses the spirit of the life which goes on here.
Two women, one white and one colored, are taking the air on the steps of the building. The white woman is Eunice, who occupies the upstairs flat; the colored woman a neighbor, for New Orleans is a cosmopolitan city where there is a relatively warm and easy intermingling of races in the old part of town.
Above the music of the “Blue Piano” the voices of people on the street can be heard overlapping.
[Two men come around the corner, Stanley Kowalski and Mitch. They are about twenty-eight or thirty years old, roughly dressed in blue denim work clothes. Stanley carries his bowling jacket and a red-stained package from a butcher’s. They stop at the foot of the steps.]
ENGLISH 12RX Summer Reading Assignment
Summer is a great time to sit down and read! This year’s summer reading assignment is the play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.You must read the entire play and answer EVERY question on a separate sheet of paper. You may either handwrite or type your answers – your choice! Each question must be answered in complete sentences.
DUE DATE:
This assignment is due on the 1st day of school.
If you have any questions or concerns about the assignment during the course of the summer, please email Ms. Sotirhos, the English Chairperson at dsotirhos@sewanhaka.k12.ny.us. Additionally, the assignment will also be posted on the homepage for Elmont.
Study Question for A Streetcar Named Desire Scene 1
1. At what street address will you find the Kowalski’s apartment?
2. What does Stanley like to do for entertainment?
3. Who owns the building where the Kowalski’s live?
4. What does (did) Blanche do for a living?
5. What famous author does Blanche refer to when describing he building where her sister now lives? What does that reference tell us about the building?
6. How has Stella changed since Blanche last saw her?
7. How old was Stella when she left home?
8. What reservations does Blanche have about the sleeping arrangements?
9. What was Stanley’s rank in the army?
10. How does Stella feel about her husband’s absences?
11. What was life like for Blanche after Stella left Bell Reve?
12. Why can’t they play poker at Mitch’s house?
13. What does Stanley do when he first meets a woman?
14. What’s Stanley’s motto?
15. Why isn’t Blanche married anymore?
16. What’s the “Napoleonic Code”?
Study Questions for A streetcar Named Desire – Scene 2
1. Where are Stella and Blanche going for dinner? What’s Stanley going to have? (What’s wrong with this picture?)
2. What is Stanley’s suspicion concerning Belle Reve?
3. If Blanche was not Stanley’s sister-in-law, he’d be “getting ideas about [her].” What sort of ideas is he getting, and where are they coming from?
4. According to Blanche, “a woman’s charm is _____________________________________________.”
5. What surprising news does Stanley tell Blanche at the end of scene 2?
Study Questions for A Streetcar Named Desire – Scenes 3 & 4
1. How’s Stanley been doing at poker?
2. What is Blanche’s initial opinion of Mitch?
3. Where did Mitch get his cigarette case?
4. What little lie does Blanche tell about Stella?
5. What did Blanche buy for the apartment on Bourbon Street?
6. What happens when Stanley “plays music critic”?
7. Why does Stella go upstairs to Eunice’s place?
8. Who once turned the hose on Stanley? Why?
9*. How did Stanley turn out the lights on his wedding night?
10. How did that make Stella feel?
11. To what two things does Blanche compare Stanley?
12. How does Stella respond to Blanche’s criticisms of Stanley?
Study Questions for A Streetcar Named Desire – Scenes 5, 6
1. Why is Eunice mad at her husband, Steve?
2. What month of the year is it in scene five? How long now has Blanche been living at Elysian Fields?
3. Who is “Shaw”, and what does he have to do with the Flamingo?
4. What happens that causes Blanche to scream? Is this an appropriate response?
5. Does Blanche want Mitch? Why, or why not?
6. What tip does Blanche give the paperboy?
7. Why is Mitch not sure if he should kiss Blanche or not?
8. Even though it’s quite warm, Mitch won’t take his coat off. Why not?
9. What was the finest gift that Mitch ever received?
10. What is “the Two-forty-first”?
11. What did Blanche think when she first saw Stanley?
12. How did Blanche’s husband die?
13. What did Blanche “see” and “hear” that “disgusted” her?
14. What effect, do you suppose, did the whole incident have on Blanche?
Study Questions for A Streetcar Named Desire – Scenes 7,8
1. What’s “the Flamingo”?
2. For whom was Blanche’s house declared “out-of bounds”?
3. Why did Blanche lose her teaching job?
4. What has Stanley gotten Blanche for her birthday?
5. How does Stanley help with the kitchen chores?
6. Why won’t the boys be doing their bowling at Riley’s?
7. Where does Stella go at the end of scene eight?
Study Questions for A Streetcar Named Desire – Scenes 9, 10, 11
1. Blanche says she doesn’t want realism. What does she want? What does she do to get it?
2. Blanche mentions “picking daisies”. To what is she referring?
3. What’s Stanley planning to do when he gets that call from the hospital?
4. Blanche threatens Stanley with a broken bottle. How does he respond?
5. “We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning,” says Stanley. What date?
6. Blanche is getting ready to go on a trip. Where does she think she’s going? (Where is she really going?)
7. Why doesn’t Stella believe her sister?
8. How does Blanche imagine herself dying?
9. On what has Blanche always depended? Is that a good plan?

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