Talk:Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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The infobox lists homosexuality and alcoholism among the "subjects", but the Theme section fails to mention either. These are clearly major focuses of the story and merit inclusion.Artaxerxes (talk) 15:42, 11 April 2011 (UTC)


Cat on a hot Tin Roof is a play by Tennessee Williams. It tells the story of a Southern woman who suffers in her husband's oppressive home and from her unfullfilling marriage.

do you really think that's the content of the play?

"Content?" I'm not sure what you mean by that, but I think that summary you have given describes just the play from Maggie's viewpoint. I wonder if it should be changed... - THE GREAT GAVINI {T-C} 20:27, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Brick's sexuality[edit]

  • My English teacher told me that Williams said Brick was not gay. Cls14 22:12, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

I think your English teacher must be crazy. Read the play. There's an extended dialogue between Brick and Big Daddy in which Brick makes it crystal clear that his relationship with his dead best friend was sexual. Further, one of the main themes of the entire work is Maggie's sexual frustration with Brick. She knows she'll never have him the way she wants him and she dreads ever facing the reason why.

Perhaps your teacher puts too much stock in the incidental facts that Brick was married to a woman and that there is at least some sexual component to that marriage; the play makes this much clear. But this is the fact of life for many gays, particularly in the South. They marry women and have sex and children with them. Often, they take the wife and kids to church every week. That way, no one knows they're gay. Unless and until they get caught in a public restroom somewhere, anyway.

Brick is such a man, coming to terms with the life of duplicity he's chosen for himself.

Williams does not make it clear, nor would the character Brick make it clear. Big Daddy was more accepting than Brick (Big Daddy had positive dealing with a man named Ochello, and with maturity comes the ability to see beyond the pat and facile, even in his own son). Brick felt because he wasn't a "fairy" he wasn't gay, that homosexuality was dirty and disgusting, and what he and Skipper had was deeper and more profound so he could not possibly be gay. Of course audiences, then as now, see through this, and so does Big Daddy. The main theme is mendacity, the lies we tell others, and the lies we tell ourselves. When Skipper reached out to Brick, Skipper was met with hostility and rejection. This rejection leads to his suicide, and Brick's downward spiral (of course Brick loved Skipper in that way but to the very end he could not admit it). Williams himself wrote that he intentionally left the question unanswered, that Brick's sexuality was to be forever ambiguous (both on the stage, and in Brick's mind). The teacher probably did not say Brick was not gay, but more likely to have said Brick could not see himself as gay. Jacksinterweb (talk) 15:10, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Well, if that's what the teacher said then I have no argument. It seems pretty clear to me that Brick is gay, but I admit that the play leaves just enough doubt that it's possible to interpret his emotional problems as related only to the guilt he feels. At the time the play was composed, I should think such an interpretation would have been much more likely, but today, after all the scandals involving religious conservative leaders and lawmakers, it's hard to miss all the signs of a classic closet case.

Brick "not [being able to] see himself as gay" is really due to the fact he is living in Cold War-era America. Compulsory heterosexuality was a part of belonging to the American nuclear family, and anything other than heterosexuality was a sign of deviancy, which lead to loose morals, then being susceptible to influence of the much-feared COMMUNISM. So, to perceive yourself as a homosexual was to perceive yourself as a traitor due to this Cold War ideology (I am heavily referencing lecture notes from my Modern Theatre and Society course at York University). Like the above commentator, it is quite clear to me that Brick is struggling with some level of homosexuality. Williams' plays are largely autobiographical, and as a homosexual himself, he seems to write his voice into Brick, and the play as a whole is autobiographical of his life in the American South. That being said, evidence that Brick had a sexual relationship with Skipper is downplayed to the point of nonexistence in the 1958 film version (Cold War ideology strikes again), hence, many people seem to glance over the true nature of the Brick-Skipper relationship when reading the play. Mattpmarshall 12:45, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree with your points, Matt, but disagree with your Cold War connections. The "much feared communism" has merely been replaced with much-feared terrorism; the circumstances surrounding that fear are still with us, including the negative attitudes toward gays.

(I see that I haven't been using the code to add my username; I'll start doing that now.) Berberry 20:11, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Though I appreciate your comments, I think it's better to leave the issue at Brick's sexuality is ambiguous, and this is what our mysterious English teacher was trying to say. In the edition of Cat I'm presently reading, the postscript (by Brian Parker, a UT professor) says "[Some of Williams' later revisions] supported Williams' assertion that Brick was heterosexual, not a closeted gay man."(page 180, A New Directions Publishing Co., 2004.)

I have not seen any direct statement on this by Williams. However, the stage directions provide a pretty insightful look at his agenda, in the key moment when Big Daddy confronts Brick in act two (page 116 of my edition.) Extended quote: "The thing they're discussing... is the inadmissible thing Skipper died to disavow between them. The fact that if it existed had to be disavowed... may be at the heart of the 'mendacity' Brick drinks to kill his disgust with. Or maybe it is only a single manifestation of it, not even the most important."

He continues, "the bird that i hope to catch in the net of this play is not the solution of one man's psychological problem. I'm trying to catch the true quality of experience in a group of people, that cloudy, flickering, evanescent--fiercely charged!--interplay of live human beings in the thundercloud of common crisis."

And then he states his angle quite clearly: "Some mystery should be left in the revelation of character in a play, just as a great deal of mystery is always left in the revelation of character in life, even in one's own character to himself. This does not absolve the playwright of his duty to observe and probe clearly and deeply... but it should steer him away from "pat" conclusions, facile definitions, which make a play just a play, and not a snare for the truth of human experience." Brick is gay! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:01, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

So, I don't think we can say Brick is gay (or not.) Maybe we can say Skipper was. It's not important to what the play is about. This is the joy of liberal arts: ambiguity. Take that, math majors! (talk) 08:36, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

There must be other forums online for discussing the meaning of the play. This page is supposed to be for discussing improvements to the article, which is marred by apparent OR - Original Research and the lack of citations to reliable sources to support assertions about Themes, and other material, such as judgments about which productions or performances were finest.Parkwells (talk) 13:26, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Different versions[edit]

The article alludes briefly to the fact that Williams prepared different versions of the play (I believe this is particularly true of the third act). The article should describe the differences and explain why the revisions were made. (talk) 01:33, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

It should do this based on valid sources, not some editor's ideas about it.Parkwells (talk) 13:27, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Meaning of the title?[edit]

The title seems obscure - unless it is meant to be rhyming slang for the well-known 4-letter word for a homosexual. Is that meant to be it? (talk) 15:13, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Move proposal[edit]

I propose moving the page to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (play) and then make "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" a disambiguation page. There are at least three notable film adaptations with the same title. Any objections? --Bensin (talk) 21:44, 2 February 2014 (UTC)