Childhood memories heavily influence our writing styles and story telling abilities, as adults. Some talented authors find more inspiration from their more difficult childhood experiences, such as Tennessee Williams. Tennessee Williams’ childhood was plagued by disease, addiction and ignorance. The many challenges he faced, throughout his childhood, allowed him to developed his creativity, and pushed him to become a descriptive and influential playwright. Some of Williams‘ most haunting memories inspired his greatest literary works: The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Looking at Williams’ young life, it is evident that his later writings were affected by his difficult childhood.
At the age of five, Williams began his journey down a rugged path. At this young age, Williams was diagnosed with Bright’s Disease (Gross 79). The disease paralyzed his legs for two years, making him unable to consort with other children. This long period of inactivity had permanent effects on his mental development. Despite the negative affects, the disease allowed Williams to discover his love of story telling. Being constricted to his bedroom, Williams entertained himself by using his imagination. He began to imagine elaborate stories (each had different characters, costumes and settings)(Hayman 2). This is when Williams discovered his exceptional ability to create stories. He began sharing his stories with Rose, his sister and only friend (12). Williams and Rose had a very close relationship. Because they were both entangled in the dark complications of the adult world, they looked to each other for acceptance and comfort.
Williams’ father was an alcoholic and very abusive (physically and verbally). Because Williams was very effeminate, his father would often call him derogatory names; such as “Miss Nancy” and “sissy boy“. Williams grew up homosexual in a homophobic world, but writing allowed him to express himself without judgment. Creating his own worlds, became an escape from his unsettling reality. Within these worlds he was in control: he was free to love whomever he wanted, and be whomever he wanted to be. This is clear in his plays that are themed around isolation and distant desire. It is said that the character Blanche, in A Street Car Named Desire, was a reflection of Williams; and, in his play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, there is a sub-plot dealing with a homosexual relationship (Gross 45). Williams’ writings were not only affected by the abuse he faced, but also the abuse that was inflicted upon his sister.
Rose was put in the hospital several times, throughout her childhood, for...