Washington University


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One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63130

In The Glass Menagerie:

Amanda: Where are you going?
Tom: I’m going out to smoke.
Amanda: You smoke too much. A pack a day at 15 cents a pack. How much would that amount to in a month? Thirty times 15 is how much Tom? Figure that out and you would be astounded at what you would save, enough to give you a night school course in accounting at Washington University. Just think what a wonderful thing that would be for you son.
Tom: I’d rather smoke.

In Real Life:

In The Glass Menagerie, Tom Wingfield’s mother tells him to stop smoking – and even promises that if he did he could afford a course in accounting at Washington University. Now – it’s no surprise Tennessee Williams mentioned the school in the play. He not only went there for a time – but it’s also a very beautiful spot in St. Louis. I walked around the school on one of those crisp, autumn days that makes you feel like the possibilities for everything are endless. I checked out the grounds and the library. It’s a beautiful campus – especially bathed in fall colors like it was that day. While Tennessee was at Washington University, according to this link, he liked to swim, he loved the library and he was on the staff of the literary magazine – the Elliot. Williams didn’t start his college education there – he first attended University of Missouri at Columbia in 1929. In 1932, his father made him quit when the family could no longer afford his education and he got his son a job at the same place he worked – the International Shoe Company. Tennessee hated the job and dreamed of becoming a writer. He managed to get back to school and attended Washington University for a full year from the beginning of the summer session in 1936.  Apparently, Williams left Washington University when a play he wrote failed to win a contest. However – he eventually earned a degree in Drama from University of Iowa.

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