I found a Literature book which I had "borrowed" from my mother's extensive home library. I looked through it and found one of Tennessee Williams’ plays, "The Glass Menagerie." Since it was almost to bedtime for my children, I decided to read it to them. After reading the background information on the characters and the production notes, I began to read scene one. Tom's narration was very interesting. Tom provided important information on the characters. The first part of the scene was very funny. Tom became upset with his mother because she often chastised him about his eating habits. He leaves the dining to smoke as cigarette. Then I read, "No, sister, no, sister - you be the lady this time and I'll be the darky" (Knickerbocker 707). I had to stop. The word, "darky," hit me like a whirlwind. Does Tennessee's Williams avoid using the "N" word to deviate from controversy? If "darky" was deleted, would scene one in the play still have the same meaning? Reading on, I understood the message he was trying to deliver. He wanted the viewer to see the mother's desire to teach Laura how to be waited on instead being the server.
Being a part of the writing institute has transformed my ability to read derogatory words and to see the author’s underlining meaning. It has been a wonderful experience to discuss rather touchy subjects, like racism, in an intellectually stimulating situation. Our monthly discussions have been fundamental in my own ability to interpret what I read and the message the author is trying to portray.
Knickerbocker, K. L. and Reniner, H. Williard. "The Glass Menagerie." Interpreting Literature. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1955.