Tennessee Williams “Life Story”

“Life Story” by Tennessee Williams is a depiction of an awkward situation after a one night stand. It is believed to be related between two men who have agreed to come to a hotel room to spend time alone. The men are only interested in speaking of themselves instead of what the other has to say. Williams alludes to the elevator finally coming to stop after an exhausting day in relation to the men’s crumbling interest in eachother.

Tennessee Williams couldn’t resist adding a little tounge and check at the end in showing that the men’s boredom ultimately ended in their death. A single cigarette is what caused their hotel room to go up in flames. A small symbol of their burning passion that dwindles down, but instead of simply dying out, Williams depicts a much darker representation of the emotions following these events.

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“Life Story” Tennessee Williams

After you’ve been to bed together for the first time,without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,

the other party very often says to you,

Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,

what’s your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do
sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up

a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you

lying together in completely relaxed positions

like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.
You tell them your story, or as much of your story

as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,

each time a little more faintly, until the oh

is just an audible breath, and then of course
there’s some interruption. Slow room service comes up

with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee

and gaze at himself with the mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.

And then, the first thing you know, before you’ve had time

to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,

they’re telling you their life story, exactly as they’d intended to all along,
and you’re saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,

each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming

no more than an audible sigh,

as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,

draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion

and stops breathing forever. Then?
Well, one of you falls asleep

and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,

and that’s how people burn to death in hotel rooms.

Story Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/180369

Cover Image: http://genius.com/5050601

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