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SWBAT interpret A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE through all-class reading, writing, and collaborative discussion.

Big Idea

"I am the king around here, so don't forget it!" (Stanley, Scene VIII, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE).

Lesson Overview and Note to Teachers

My classes are held in 100-minute block sessions every other day.  Activities in this lesson take approximately one class period to complete.  The lesson below outlines Day Four on A Streetcar Named Desire.  Today we finish reading the play and explore student themes.

A prezi on the play by Leanne Black (2013) may be useful for reviewing the play's historical context, plot, and literary techniques.  Due to the comprehensive nature of the Prezi, I recommend waiting until you are done exploring the play with students to use it as a review. You can create your own account at prezi.com.

For all-class reading and discussion, teachers working with students who are building critical reading proficiency can use a teacher-developed study guide on the play as a resource. It includes discussion questions on each scene as well as extended learning opportunities. I have included it as a resource in this section and will include it in each subsequent lesson to facilitate its use.

All-Class Reading and Discussion: Scenes IX-XI

60 minutes

At the beginning of class, students explain that since we reviewed Scenes I through V through student-led inquiry and discussion last class, they feel prepared to finish reading the play today.

We continue reading the text by listening to the audiobook ((HarperCollins, 2008) while reading the text.  As students are highly proficient readers, we read Scenes VI through VIII then discuss the following issues:

  • At the end of Scene VI, why do you think Blanche believes being with Mitch represents God's presence in her life? Blanche's only option after losing Belle Reve is to find a man to support her and care for her.  She believes that Mitch understands her, accepts her, and wants to care for her despite her guilt over her husband's suicide.
  • How does Williams' juxtaposition of Blanche and Mitch's future plans as a couple with Stanley's revelation about Blanche's sordid past function in the play? The juxtaposition of salvation for Blanche in Mitch and Stanley's revelation impact the reader through dramatic irony and foreshadowing of Blanche's downfall.  
  • Do you think Stanley's actions in Scenes VII and VIII are justified? Explain. Stanley sees Blanche as a threat to his marriage because earlier in the play he overhears Blanche describing him as bestial and trying to persuade Stella to leave with her. Since Stella seems to hold Blanche in high regard, Stanley must discredit her and send her away to save his marriage and his control in the family.
  • Are Stanley, Stella, Blanche, and Mitch all delusional? Yes, they all have a perception of reality that seems irrational and unattainable. For example, Stanley thinks that his marriage is normal without Blanche around, that he and Stella are madly in love. He doesn't acknowledge his brutality towards Stella.  Stella excuses Stanley's behavior to some extent. Mitch and Blanche believe they can be happy together, but Blanche hasn't revealed her entire past to Mitch.


Students are anxious to finish the play.  We read Scenes IX-XI, then discuss the following issues:

  • Do you think Stanley actually cares about Mitch, or does he tell Mitch the truth about Blanche as retribution for attempting to ruin his marriage? Williams leaves this up to the reader, but the text gives the impression that Stanley simply wants to get rid of Blanche so that his family remains intact.
  • When confronted by Mitch, Blanche says she tells the truth the way it should be. How is this character trait integral to the play? Without Blanche being diametrically opposed to the reality of Stella's circumstances, there would be no tension between Stanley and Blanche, which helps to drive the plot.
  • Why do you think Eunice tells Stella not to ever believe Blanche's story about the rape? As women during this time period, Eunice and Stella cannot survive without husbands to financially support them and protect them.  
  • How does symbolism function in this play? Williams uses the polka to represent Blanche's insanity and guilt about her husband's suicide; the streetcars Desire and Cemetery in which Blanche travels to stand for what lead to her demise; and the paper lantern to represent how Blanche creates illusions to cope with and avoid dismal reality.
  • Are you satisfied with the resolution of the play? No, Williams gives Stella no options.  She should have left Stanley after Blanche's accusation of rape.  The domestic violence earlier in the play was enough reason to do so.

Ticket Out: Theme

30 minutes

For the ticket out, I ask students to write a page that answers the question: What do you think is the theme of A Streetcar Named Desire? Why? Provide at least three examples from the text with parenthetical citations to support your answer.  Please view the video in this section for an overview of student work (Narration: Ticket Out)(Student Work: Ticket Out). Students share their writing with at least two people and discuss their themes.

Students state that they have learned to always seek out help if they have problems as opposed to running from them.