Tennessee Williams spent the better part of his career defending Brick's heterosexuality, and yet critics and scholars alike are still debating the fallout from Walter Kerr's 1955 polemic concerning Brick's homosexual "mystery." This essay reopens that debate, not with the intent of siding for or against Williams in his response to Kerr and others but rather with trying to understand what Williams meant by refusing to label Brick's "mystery" as homosexuality. In reading the play against its Cold War and existential contexts, the essay argues that Williams was Þnally less interested in outing a gay character and more in demonstrating how that character's sexual uncertainty could belie his model heteromasculinity, both for himself and for his society. Such a message, one upheld by the play's original ending, is for WiIlliams more socially signiÞcant (and politically subversive) because it debunks society's myth of polarized sexual identities. Though undoubedly queer, Brick in the play is not gay, and for Williams that fact is more troubling for audiences who need to see that Brick is Þnally not one of them.


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pp. 225-249
Launched on MUSE
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