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Cahir 1Bridget CahirMrs. HolladayHonors Lit5 October 2018Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Research paperTennessee Williams is known as one of the great American playwrights of the 20th century. His play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,revolves around the central theme of mendacity, a wordused often in the play, meaning untruthfulness. Through this theme, Williams heavily contrasts the difference between appearance and reality. In the play, each of the three central characters areaffected by the mendacity in different ways. Brick, the main character, struggles with accepting his own truth about his sexuality and his relationship with his deceased friend, Skipper. Maggie, Brick’s wife, lies about being pregnant in order to secure her inheritance from her dying father inlaw, Big Daddy. Big Daddy himself struggles with his family lying to him about his terminal illness. In the play,Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams uses the theme of mendacity and the conflict of appearance versus reality to develop his characters Brick, Maggie, and Big Daddy.The story line of Brick, the main character of the play, revolves around the ambiguity of his sexual orientation. Although it is never outright declared in the work, it is heavily implied that Brick had been in a homosexual relationship with his late friend Skipper. In Williams’ stage direction he addresses the uncertainty over Brick’s sexuality, stating, “Some mystery should be left in the revelation of character in a play, just as a great deal of mystery is always left in the revelation of character in life” (Williams 117). Part of the reason for this vagueness surrounding his sexuality could be due to the time period in which the play was written. In 1955, when Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was released, it was extremely taboo to even hint at homosexuality. It was so
Cahir 2unconventional in society that Williams knew an openly gay main character would not be accepted by the public. However, Williams did create suspicion around Brick’s sexuality throughhis writing.In the play, the audience learns about Brick’s relationship with his friend Skipper, who has passed away before the beginning of the play. Brick and Skipper were very close friends whoplayed football together for most of their lives, even to the professional level, before Brick suffered a career ending injury. Brick and Skipper always got along very well, as Maggie noted, “when we double dated at college, Gladys Fitzgerald and I and you and Skipper, it was more likea date between you and Skipper” (59). However, it is later revealed that Brick ended the friendship after Skipper made a drunken confession to him on the phone, revealing his homosexual feelings towards Brick. George Crandell notes that, “When Skipper fails to conform to Brick’s fantasy of ideal friendship by confessing his homosexual desire to Brick on the telephone, Brick’s own secure heterosexual self-image is challenged.” (Crandell). Brick hung up the phone, never again talking to Skipper, who died shortly later. The death of Skipper took an