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Our Town | Study Guide

Thornton Wilder

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Course Hero. "Our Town Study Guide." March 7, 2017. Accessed November 30, 2022.


Course Hero, "Our Town Study Guide," March 7, 2017, accessed November 30, 2022,

Our Town | Infographic

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Check out this Infographic to learn more about Thornton Wilder's Our Town. Study visually with character maps, plot summaries, helpful context, and more.

our-town-thornton-wilderThe CornerstoneRepresents the preservation of the message about the importance of everyday life The Milkman & Paper BoySymbolize lifes permanence and transienceSymbolsHeliotropeAs it comes up in conversation, highlights the value of forming connections through ordinary objectsIts 1910 in the small New England town of Grovers Corners. Neighbors Emily and George grow up, fall in love, and marry. Its all perfectly ordinary—until Emily dies in childbirth. Given the chance to relive a single childhood day, Emily sees too late the beauty that underlies even our most trivial moments on Earth.A Universe in Each Moment We LiveTHEMESTimeFlashbacks and foreshadowing make the point that life and death are nearly simultaneous because time passes so rapidly. Value of LifeEven small daily events have value when you think about how brief life can be.MinimalismOur Towns minimal stagecraft strips the play of traditional artifice, making its message universal. Main CharactersMr. WebbEmilys informative father; edits town newspaper Simon StimsonTroubled church organist; commits suicideDr. GibbsSmall-town doctor; Georges father Joe StoddardTown undertakerGeorge GibbsFaithful and decent husband; becomes a farmerEmily Webb GibbsGeorges sweetheart and then wife; dies in childbirthStage ManagerOmniscient, plainspoken narrator; also plays the minister MorningMotifs“Blessed Be the Tie That BindsAll three acts of the play open in the morning, representing the natural cycle that begins each day and the town's consistency. The lyrics of this traditional Protestant hymn underscore Wilders message about the importance of human connection. Sources:, Modern American Drama on Screen edited by William Robert Bray and R. Barton Palmer,, PBS,Sinatra in Hollywood by Tom Santopietro, Thornton Wilder: A Lifeby Penelope Niven, ThorntonWilder.comCopyright © 2016 Course Hero, Inc.As a playwright, teacher, scholar, author, and actor, Wilder crossed boundaries to share his passion with the world, earning three Pulitzers: two for plays and one for a novel. Our Towns sad, honest portrayal of American life has made it a classic that still appeals to audiences.THORNTON WILDER1897–1975AuthorOur Townby the NumbersFeet off the Atlantic Coast (in the ocean) that Grovers Cornerss coordinates would actually place it1,000Performances in the plays premiere run at Henry Millers Theatre in New York336Year a live musical version of the play was telecast, starring Frank Sinatra as the Stage Manager1955o any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?Emily, Act IIIThornton Wilder1938EnglishPlayAuthorFirst PerformedOriginal LanguageOur TownDrama

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