A Streetcar Named Desire
Glossary Assignment - Overall pages: 108-112
Felicia Liu
Page
Word/Term/Phrase
Meaning/Explanation
108
Magnolia 9047 (n.)
Magnolia is the C.J. Peete Housing development in uptown New Orleans home to 2100 people. It is one of the most notoriously dangerous housing districts in the United States and ranks even globally. This section of New Orleans has a significant influence in New Orleans' extremely high murder rate. Blanche is very skeptical of her sister’s living accommodations when she first visits because of the fancy column house she is accustomed to in Belle Reve.
Magnolia also refers to a species of plant flower that is valued for its longevity and exquisite fragrant blooms. It is an ancient genus that evolved to encourage pollination by beetles and as a result its carpels are tough. Metaphorically, Blanche’s first appearance in the play resembles that of a white Magnolia, delicate and beautiful but with a tough, arrogant personality. As the play progresses we learn that she is rather weak and psychologically ill, contrasting the pureness of the flower.

magnolia.jpg
Magnolia flower

The Magnolia grandiflora is also the official state flower of Mississippi, where Blanche is from as well as Louisiana, the state of New Orleans where the play takes place.
Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/magnolia
110
Hydro-therapy (n.)
Hydrotherapy, or water therapy, is the use of water (hot, cold, steam, or ice) to relieve discomfort and promote physical well-being.
Hydrotherapy is proven to be a highly effective form of natural therapy which works by stimulating the endorphins which in turn helps circulation, the immune system, relieve stress, and enhance complexion.
hydrotherapy.jpg
Blanche uses hydrotherapy to calm her nerves

Blanche takes baths or “hydro-therapy” in order to calm her nerves because she wishes to forget and wash away her illicit past. She tries to escape the “uncleanness” of her old lifestyle in New Orleans but winds up living in what she sees as a dirty apartment. Just as she cannot clean herself of her detestable history, her bathing never ends. At the end of the play she speaks of wanting to spend the rest of her life at sea (136).

Stanley also uses water to clean himself and undo a misdeed when he showers after hitting Stella. The shower serves to sooth his sadistic temper, leaving him apologetic. Both characters use water almost like a baptism in order to start with a clean slate.
110
Polack (n.)
Offensive Slang. Used as a disparaging term for a person of Polish birth or descent.
A term used between Poles humorously, when talking about the incompetence of a person of their same kin. Usually considered offensive if a non-Pole says it (casually) to a Pole. In this case, Stanley is insulted when Blanche calls him a Polack, not just because it is offensive slang, but also because he considers himself to be 100% American.
111
Laurel (n.)
Laurel is the Blanche’s original home where Stanley wishes to send her back to. It is a southern town in Mississippi located in the southeast region known as the Pine Belt. The city of Laurel was originally established in 1882.
map.png
A map of the city of Laurel

The idiom “to rest on one’s laurels” refers to resting on one’s past achievements instead of working to maintain or advance one’s status or reputation. In one interpretation Stanley may be suggesting Blanche is relying on her sister, using her past achievements of burying their relatives and staying behind to hold the family together as a means of instilling guilt in Stella.

Laurel, or bay laurel, also refers to a Mediterranean evergreen tree (Laurus nobilis) having aromatic, simple leaves and small blackish berries. Both the berries and the leaves contain essential oils. Ironically, Blanche, who is from Laurel, tries to wash away her past with water baths, but oil cannot be cleansed with water.
Source: http://www.answers.com/Laurel?cat=health
laurel.jpg
Bay Laurel

111
Greyhound (n.)
A greyhound is a breed of dog known for its speed however Stanley is referring the transportation brand “Greyhound.”

Founded in 1914, Greyhound Lines, Inc. is the largest provider of intercity bus transportation, serving more than 3,100 destinations with 16,000 daily departures across North America. Symbol: greyhound running dog.
greyhound.gif
Greyhound Bus Line's Logo

111
Varsouviana Music (proper n.)
The name of a specific polka composition. The opposite of the “blue piano” music, which represents life, is the polka music, also called the Varsouviana music, which represents death and appears when Blanche is being confronted with her past and thre truth. Varsouviana music played when Blanche told her husband Allan Grey that he disgusted her. Soon after, Allan shot himself and from thereon the music is repeated whenever Blanche remembers her dead husband. It is heard most prominently in scene 6, when Blanche tells the story to Mitch. Here, the music plays after Stanley gives Blanche a ticket back to Laurel because she realizes that she is no longer wanted, representing another disaster in her life.
112
Hoity-toity (adj.)
To define snobby behavior; pompous. Here, Stanley is upset as he describes Blanche as being “hoity-toity,” looking down upon him and calling him an ape or a boorish person. He claims that her arrival has ruined the happy relationship that he and his wife had had.
snobby.jpg
A "hoity-toity" woman