Analysis

As noted above, Mama invests her hopes in Brick fulfilling Big Daddy's dream and becoming a family man. The responsibilities of fatherhood would somehow stop his drinking, and the estate could go to the rightful heir. The idyllic fantasy of the family restored, however, is yet another of the play's many lies. This lie belongs to Maggie, who invents the coming of a child.

In face of all she knows, Big Mama, clinging to her family, desperately fixates on her lie, running to Big Daddy to tell him his dream has been fulfilled. Its announcement and Maggie's attempt to realize it take place against the bellows of the dying Daddy. Mama second entrance for the morphine underlines the horrible agony that takes place in the adjoining rooms, an agony that takes place under Mae and Gooper's sadistic gaze.

In making this lie, Maggie would assuage the dying Big Daddy and assure her and Brick's place in the household. At best it would only temporarily keep Mae and Gooper at bay. Brick, moreover, appears as untouchable as ever. His decision to not protest Maggie's lie rests less in a desire to save Maggie's face than in his resignation. Brick is bent on finding his click alone. Having finally found it, he strolls peacefully from the room, leaving Maggie in her solitude. Note here the wonderfully maudlin image of Maggie clutching her pillow in misery.

Here Maggie becomes her most desperate, bribing her husband with liquor to conceive a child. Brick has nothing to say. He can only repeating sadly Big Daddy's bitter line—"Wouldn't it be funny if that was true?"—when Maggie professes that she loves him and that he wants his love. Brick remains a broken man, deep in mourning for his beloved Skipper, wracked with guilt over his friend's death and the unspeakable desire between them, disgusted by his inability to confront their love. He has withdrawn depressively from the world.

Earlier we noted Cat's affinities with conventional melodrama, a genre consisting of stock characters and soap operatic plots that hinge on romantic intrigue and end in the restoration of the happy home. Though making use of melodrama's high emotionalism, exhilarating histrionics, and other devices often considered to be in "bad taste," Cat's rather dismal ending, involving the total demystification of the family, makes its departure from this genre clear.

In this respect, subsequent Cats diverge sharply from its original version, particularly its reactionary cinematic adaptation. MGM's Cat shows a Brick reformed through a more extended, and rather trite, heart-to-heart with Big Daddy. The script of the version of Cat first premiered, which was revised in collaboration with director Elia Kazan, also leans toward a more conventional resolution, though hardly to the extent of its Hollywood counterpart.