Overall pages: 136-142 Student Name: Ai Ting Chan

The Quarter
‘The Quarter’ is a specific district or section, usually of a city (i.e. the French Quarter). This refers to the setting of A Streetcar Named Desire, which is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans after World War II.

Pictures of the French Quarter today:
Quinine is a white powder that is obtained from the bark of the cinchona tree that is found in the Andes mountain range of Ecuador and Peru. Quinine was introduced into Europe around 1640. Around about 1944, the method of creating synthetic quinine was found.

Cinchona Tree:


Quinine gives tonic water the bitter taste that it has. However, it is also used as a traditional treatment for regular muscle cramps by helping to reduce the frequency and the severity of the cramps.

Quinine was also used to prevent and treat malaria, because it is effective in reducing fevers. Today, however, new synthetic drugs have been created to substitute quinine as the anti-malarial vaccine.

Quinine has been known to have some harmful side effects. A large quinine intake may result in a clinical syndrome known as “cinchoism” which is characterized by severe headache, abdominal pain, convulsions, visual disturbances, blindness, and auditory disturbances, such as ringing in the ears. It can also be very harmful for pregnant women because it can cause fetal mutation and permanent genetic changes. Quinine can also be fatal in large doses.
“And I’ll be buried at sea sewn up in a clean white sack and dropped overboard—at noon—in the blaze of summer—and into an ocean as blue as [chimes again] my first lover’s eyes!”

– Blanche
Burials at sea were granted usually to those who worked in the Navy, but occasionally for civilians whom enjoyed the sea and requested to be buried there. Usual burial methods are to cremate the body and throw the ashes into the sea, or to place the body in a casket and use weights to drop it into the water.

The burial that Blanche is describing – a body sewn in white cloth and dropped into the sea with weights – is one that more resembles the procedures for burial at sea set down by the Anglican Communion.

Blanche’s request to be buried at sea, however, is probably related to the association of water and the color white with purity and cleanliness. She wants to be washed away of her past and die pure.

The picture below is how the Navy buried the deceased at sea, using simple white cloths to wrap the body and weights to sink it:


The ‘Varsouviana’ refers to the Varsouviana Polka, which is a folk dance originally from Warsaw in 1850. The Varsoviana was one of the smoothest and graceful dances known and it was the most popular of the dances done at the time. The Varsouviana can be spelled in different ways: Varsoviana (in Italian) or Varsovienne (in French). The Varsouviana Polka is a motif within A Streetcar Named Desire and is associated with Blanche, her past, and her state of mind. The Varsouviana is played whenever Blanche is confronted with her past, with Allan Grey, her deceased husband, or with the truth.

The following video is of the Varsouviana:

Sotto voce
Sotto voce, in the stage directions, means “under voice”. The word sotto originates from the Latin word subtus for “below”. The characters are to speak in an undertone and not be heard. The lines delivered by the actor in sotto voice are only directed to specific other actors on the stage, and are inaudible to other characters.


Stanley [sotto voce]: Doc, you better go in.
“Jacket, Doctor?”
The “jacket” mentioned by the matron refers to a straight jacket, which is a long-sleeved jacket-like garment used to bind the arms tightly against the body as a means of restraining a violent person, which is Blanche in this case.

This photo is what a straight jacket looks on a person:
“Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
– Blanche
Probably the most famous line in the play, delivered by Blanche as the doctor escorts her out of the house. She is delusional and completely oblivious to that fact that she is being taken to a medical institution. This segment of the scene is shown in the video below:

“Blue piano”
The “blue piano” represents Blanche’s depression, loneliness and her longing for love, which the adjective blue (not the color) suggests. The “blue piano” stands for Blanche’s emotions and her need to companionship and love. It plays in the scenes with her and the paper-boy shows, Mitch, and when she is trying to reach Shepherd Huntleigh on the phone. The “blue piano” is also associated with Stanley and the liveliness that he brings to the stage. In this last scene, the “blue piano” symbolizes Stanley’s victory over Blanche.
Seven-card stud
Seven-card stud is another popular variation of poker which is particularly wild. It was the most popular game of poker from the early 20th century up until 1980. It used to be exceptionally popular in the West, which would include New Orleans. Stanley and his friends are always seen playing poker around the house and it can be assumed that they are playing seven-card stud.

The last line of the play – “This game is seven-card stud” – symbolizes the triumph of Stanley over Blanche as poker is associated with a “man’s world”. Also, the poker game is a symbol of the deception and lies that still remain within the Kowalski house – such as Stanley’s abuse of Blanche – since those are the skills needed to be good at playing poker.