C a t o n a H o t T i n R o o f
by Tennessee Williams
Act One: Someone is taking a shower in the bathroom, the door of which is half open. A pretty young woman, Margaret Pollitt, enters and crosses to the bathroom door. Her voice is rapid and drawling. She tells Brick, who is in the shower, that 'one of those no-neck monsters' hit her with a biscuit so she has to change. Brick asks why she calls Gooper's kids no-neck monsters. Margaret complains about their screaming. She told Mae Pollitt to feed her kids at a separate table, but she refused for it was Big Daddy's birthday. She asks Brick to consider that Mae has five kids and a sixth on the way and says that they're up to something- cutting Brick out of his father's estate for Big Daddy's dying of cancer. Margaret says that she got the report that day. She talks about how it is no coincidence that Gooper and Mae came there, and how they make allusions to Rainbhow Hill, a place famous for treating alcoholics and dope fiends. They aim to send Brick there. Brick, a former athlete, recently broke his leg while doing hurdles at two o'clock in teh morning. Margaret says that Brick's big advantage is that Big Daddy dotes on him and that he can't stand Borther Man and Brother Man's wife, the monster of fertility. Margaret even thinks that Big Daddy harbors a 'lech' for her. Margaret calls Brick an ass-aching Puritan. At dinner, Mae and Gooper kept making signs at each other, and even Big Mama (who's a bit slow) noticed. Margaret then goes on to make fun of Mae's family, who lost their money. Her father, Papa Flynn, barely escaped doing time for shady stock manipulations. She derides Mae for being chosen cotton carnival queen, for the girl chosen the year before, Susie McPheeters, had tobacco juice spit in her face. Margaret thinks that Brick is looking at her funny becaus eshe's gone through a hideous transformation, become hard. Margaret says that she thought drunks lost their looks, but he proved she was mistaken. She says that if she thought he would never make love to her again, she would commit suicide. She says the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof is just staying on it as long as she can. Brick drops his crutch, and refuses to lean on Margaret. Margaret wants Brick to give the appearance that he didn't forget Big Daddy's birthday. Brick refuses to sign a card. Brick says that she has forgotten the conditions under which he agreed to stay living with her. Mae enters, bearing the bow of a young lady's archery set. It is Margaret's Diana Trophy, which she won at the intercollegiate archery contest. Mae thinks it's dangerous to have that exposed round a house of children. Mae demands that she lock it up. Mae brags about the kids, and how Big Daddy beamed over them. Margaret wonders why Mae gave dogs' names to her children. Both Mae and Brick accuse Margaret of being catty. Margaret says she feels like a cat on a hot tin roof. Brick tells her to take a lover. Margaret tells him to get fat and ugly so she could. They close the door, and argue. Big Mama calls up to Brick, and tells him that she has wonderful news about Big Daddy. Big Mama is short, stout, and sixty. She seems like a sumo wrestler. Big Mama tells them that nothing is wrong with Big Daddy except a spastic colon. Sookey calsl to Big Mama, telling her that Miss Sally is calling from Memphis. Big Mama tells Margaret that Miss Sally is always out for something. Big Mama seems to think that Margaret is the cause of Brick's drinking, and wonders if she makes him happy in bed. Big Mama goes downstairs. After she is gone, Brick comes back out. He vows to revive their sex life. Brick tells her that he wouldn't divorce her for being unfithful, for he'd be relieved to find that she'd found a lover. Margaret still believes that Big Daddy is dying of cancer. Margaret likes that Big Daddy never hides that he is. Margaret mentions her mistake when she told him the truth about that thing with Skipper. Brick says that Skipper is the one who told him, not Margaret. Margaret says that her double dates with him, Skipper, and Gladys Fitzgerald seemed more like Skipper and Brick were going out and the girls were chaperones. Brick asks her why he would marry her if he is ... Margaret feels that she destroyed Skipper. Dixie, one of the kids, bursts in. Margaret yells at her. Dixie says that she is jealous because she can't have babies. Brick says that their problem is how she can have a child with a man who can't stand her.
Act Two: Big Daddy comes upstairs with Reverend Tooker, who speaks about all of the things that St. Paul's in Grenada has. Bid Daddy asks Tooker if, with the talk of memorials, he thinks somebody's about to die there. Mae speaks about her children's typhoids shots. They play the radio, but it is so loud that Big Daddy tells them to turn it off. Big Mama tells Brick to put his liquor down, and Gooper remarks how Brick obeys him. Big Mama pulls Tooker into her lap when he won't help her from the chair. Big Daddy tells her to stop horsing around, with her blood pressure. Negroes in white jacketsenter with a cake ablaze with candles. They sing Happy Birthday to Big Daddy. Big Mama cries for happiness. Big Daddy wants to know how Brick got crippled. Margaret makes a diversion by showing Big Daddy the cashmere robe. Big Daddy calls Big Mama all hawk and no spit after she chides him for picking on the preacher. Big Daddy thinks that Brick was out there with a woman. Big Daddy yells at Big Mama for trying to take over just because she thought he had cancer. Big Mama thinks that he is questioning her love. Big Daddy asks Brick why he wiped Margaret's kiss off her mouth. It is because Margaret and Mae have the same look. Brick says they have the same look because they're sitting on a large piece of land and are determined to knock a bigger piece off than the other. Big Daddy catches Mae spying on him and Brick. Big Daddy lectures him about his drinking. Big Daddy tells Brick that he is worth ten million in cash and blue chip stocks. Big Daddy remembers Europe, how a five-year old girl, naked, tried to unbutton his trousers. After that, he and Big Mama left Spain. Brick says that the thing he wants most is quiet, and Big Daddy asks him why he is so anxious for him to shut up. Big Daddy says that he felt the hand of Death on his shoulder, but he kept tight about it. Pigs squeal, men don't, even though they don't have man's advantage of ignorance. Big Daddy wonders if a drink would injure his spastic colon. Big Daddy pours a drink, and contemplates pleasure with a woman. Brick goes out for a breather, but Big Daddy won't let him. They can hear Big Mama from downstairs talking to Miss Sally. Big Mama comes up to talk to Big Daddy, and says that she knows he didn't mean the things he said. Big Daddy tells her that all he asks of a woman is that she leave him alone. Big Daddy talks about having an affair with a woman and smothering her with minks and diamonds. Brick thinks about the click not happening. Brick says that he has to hear a little click in his head that makes him peaceful. He doesn't have the right level of alcohol in his bloodstream yet. Brick says that their talk is getting them nowhere. He says that they always talk in circles. Brick says that Big Daddy is just drunk. Big Daddy tells Big Mama to leave when he comes upstairs. Big Daddy throws Brick's crutch out of reach. Big Daddy tells him to think why he drinks or give up drinking. Brick says he drinks out of one word: disgust. Brick asks him if he has heard of the word "mendacity." Big Daddy says that he knows about mendacity- he's lived with a woman he can't stand for forty years and even slept with her, and pretended to love Gooper and Mae and their children. He says that there is nothing but mendacity that one can live with. Brick says that there is something else: Liquor. Brick refuses to go back to sports announcing because he hates seeing guys do something that he cannot anymore. Big Daddy mentions how Brick started drinking when Skipper died, and how Gooper and Mae thought there was something not right in his friendship. Brick wonders whose suggestion it really is. The former owners of the plantation, Jack Straw and Peter Ochello, were homosexual, and Peter quit eating when Jack died, just like Brick started drinking when Skipper did. Brick is offended by the suggestion. Brick says how he and Skipper weren't; in fact, at Ole Miss they chased away one. Big Daddy says that the one thing you can grow in a big place more than cotton is tolerance. Brick feels that Margaret was always jealous of him and Skipper because, although Margaret and Brick had sex, Brick had an emotional connection with Skipper. Margaret tried to convince Skipper that he and Brick were homosexuals, and Skipper slept with her to disprove it. Big Daddy accuses Brick of passing the buck. Big Daddy goes outside.
Act Three: Mae enters, wondering about where Big Daddy is. Big Mama thinks that he's gone to bed. They hear Margaret talking to Dr. Baugh about how her family was progressive towards their slaves- setting them free even before the Civil War began. Big Mama thinks that Big Daddy was just worn out. Reverend Tooker remarks that Big Daddy's remarkable. They discuss his large appetite. Big Mama wonders where Brick is- drinking. Margaret says that she never trusted a man that didn't drink. Gooper never drinks. They open the door, and Mae thinks it might be inappropriate because Big Daddy might hear their discussion. Mae has a strange feelnig that Brick said something he shouldn't have said to Big Daddy. Big Mama remarks how Brick has been broken up since Skipper's death. Skipper died from overdoses of sodium amytal medication, which caused alcohol poison. Brick appears, adn Big Mama sobs over him. Margaret tells Brick to sit with Big Mama and hold her hand, but he refuses to because he wants to stay on his crutch. Big Mama, Mae and Gooper want to know the truth about Big Daddy's condition. Dr. Baugh admits that the specimen they took was malignant. Big Mama calls for Brick- her only son. Big Mama tells Mae that Gooper never liked Daddy. Gooper suggests that Big Daddy be put on morphine. Margaret says that she thinks she knows what Big Mama means. Mae accuses Margaret of giving Brick his drinking problem. Mae and Gooper say that Big Daddy would never be foolish enough to put his place in irresponsible hands. Mae celebrates Gooper for taking care of the place while Big Daddy was sick and Brick was drunk. Margaret accuses the two of greed. Mae says that Margaret's childless because Brick won't sleep with her. Gooper tells Big Mama that he and Tom Bullitt have drawn up a dummy trusteeship to protect their estate. Big Mama embraces Brick and speaks about how time goes by so fast. Margaret makes an announcement: she and Brick are going to have a child. Big Mama says that a child will make Brick pull together and stop his drinking. Mae and Gooper think that sh's lying. Brick knows that the click hasn't happened yet. It finally does. Brick asks Margaret how she will conceive a child by a man in love with his liquor. Margaret takes Brick's crutch and hurls it over the railing. Margaret says that he will not have his liquor until he sleeps with her. She says she loves him, and he says wouldn't it be funny if that were true.