Half an hour later, as dinner is finishing up, the lights go out. Tom feigns ignorance of the cause. Amanda, unfazed, continues to be as charming as she can be. She lights candles and asks Jim to check the fuse box. After Jim tells her that the fuse box looks fine, Amanda suggests that he go spend time with Laura in the living room.
As Amanda and Tom do dishes in the kitchen, Laura warms up to Jim, who is charming enough to put her ease. She reminds him that they knew each other in high school, and that he used to call her "Blue Roses." Jim feels ashamed that he did not recognize her at once. They reminisce about the class they had together, a singing class to which Laura, because of her leg, was always late. She always felt that the brace on her leg made a clumping sound "like thunder," but Jim insists that he never noticed it.
They have a friendly conversation by candlelight. Jim reveals that he was never engaged, and that his old girlfriend was the one who put the announcement in the yearbook. They no longer see each other. Laura speaks admirably of Jim's voice, and he autographs the program of the show he was in, The Pirates of Penzance‹she was too shy to bring the program to him back in high school, but she has kept it all these years. Jim tries to give Laura advice about raising the level of her self-esteem, and talks about his plans to get involved with the nascent television industry. He speaks of the numerous courses he is taking, and his interest in various, programmatic methods for self-improvement. He calls money and power the cycle on which democracy is built.
She shows Jim her glass collection. They look closely at a little glass unicorn, remarking on how ...
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... frail and vulnerable.
Tom's closing speech is a great moment. The descending fourth wall puts a powerful but permeable barrier between Tom and his family. They are behind him, behind him in time and in the physical space of the stage, and they are inaudible. Yet he cannot seem to shake the memory of them, and they are clearly visible to the audience. Although he has never explicitly spoken of one of the play's most important themes‹the conflict between responsibility and the need to live his own life‹it is clear that he has not been able to fully shake the guilt from the decision that he made. The cost of escape has been the burden of memory. For Tom and the audience, it is difficult to forget the final image of frail Laura, illuminated by candlelight on a darkened stage, while the world outside of the apartment faces the beginnings of a great storm.