Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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Play by Tennessee Williams, produced and published in 1955 and awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

On his sixty-fifth birthday, Big Daddy Pollitt, vulgar, fat, ruthless, and the richest cotton planter of the Mississippi Delta, is surrounded by his family: Brick, his favorite son, a withdrawn, alcoholic ex-football hero, and Brick's wife Maggie, the passionate, vital “cat” who is unrelenting in her struggle to get what she wants; Gooper, the hypocritical, avaricious elder son whose wife Mae is about to produce their sixth “no-neck monster” child; and Big Mama, his loud, garrulous wife of 40 years. Maggie, determined to have marital relations with her remote husband and to produce an heir for the plantation, turns on Brick to tell him that she and his closest friend, Skipper, now dead, had slept together because each needed the warmth that Brick's “godlike” superiority and ideally pure relationship would not provide, and that in forcing Skipper to face the truth of his latent homosexuality she drove him to drink, drugs, and destruction. Soon after, Big Daddy makes Brick see that his alcoholism stems not from a noble disgust with the “mendacity” of the world, but from disgust with himself for refusing to help Skipper when the basic nature of their relationship became evident. Faced by his own truth, Brick retaliates by telling Big Daddy that he is dying of cancer. Aware that there is no will and anxious to inherit the rich plantation, Gooper and Mae tell Big Mama the truth about her husband's health and are surprised by her outraged revulsion toward the trusteeship they have had prepared. Wanting to make Big Daddy happy and determined not to be disinherited, Maggie announces that she and Brick are expecting a child, and later that evening, having locked away the liquor, she sets about attempting to make the lie come true, hoping both to rekindle Brick's desire and to save him from his cold detachment and death-in-life.

Subjects: Literature.

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Tennessee Williams (1911—1983) American dramatist