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Theme of time and past of youth in a couple of distinct ways in Summer and Smoke

Syed Afshan


The phrase ‘Summer and Smoke’ comes from the Hart Crane’s Poem “Emblems of Conduct”. It is a two part, thirteen scene 1948 play by Tennessee Williams, originally titled “Chart of Anatomy”. The play centers on a highly-strung, unmarried minister’s daughter, Alma Wine miller, and the spiritual sexual romance that nearly blossoms between her and the wild, undisciplined young doctor who grew up next door, Jahn Buchanan. Williams makes clear during the play that Alma means ‘Soul’ in Spanish whereas John represents the ‘Earth’. The play’s end is tragic because both have traded places philosophically. The thing that makes this play so tragic is that John is not a bad guy. John is a damaged Soul, and he is determined to live up to everyone’s horrible opinions of him. Williams focuses on a Stagnant Society that is hostile and unaccommodating to the young. In his play, women who attempt to talk of a higher love or spirituality are often knocked off their self-erected pedestals into the arms of a dominant man. He exposes Society’s double standard where men are expected to sow their wild oats, but if women, the pillars of Society, choose this path, it is viewed as scandalous. As a victim of Society, Alma is overpowered by a man who values only sexual gratification in a relationship.


Sexual Jealousy; Victim; Society; Tragic ending; Theme; Lost of Youth

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