Mendacity vs Truth in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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Mike MorrealeAmerican Literature 2
Dr. TreisCat on a Hot Tin Roof

Mendacity vs Truth
Tennessee Williams’ book Cat on a Hot Tin Roof takes place entirely in the plantation home of the Pollitt family in the Mississippi Delta. The plantation once belonged to a pair of bachelors, and “Big Daddy” Pollitt had worked for them as an overseer, but he is now the owner of the plantation, which he has built into a dynastic empire. Big Daddy’s family has met at the house to celebrate his birthday. Maggie, a beautiful and witty girl, has escaped a childhood of poverty to marry into the wealthy Pollitt family, but finds herself in an unfulfilling marriage. She is married to Big Daddy’s son, Brick. He is an aging football hero, and constantly neglects his wife. Brick further infuriates her by ignoring his brother's attempts to gain control of the family fortune once Big Daddy passes away. Brick's coldness towards Maggie and his alcoholism can be attributed to the death of his best friend, Skipper. Big Daddy has been feeling a bit under the weather, and what he believes is a spastic colon ends up being a form of cancer. Big Daddy is unaware that of his illness and that he doesn’t have much time left to live, so his doctors and his family have conspired to keep this information from him. The web of lies that is spun throughout this book is huge, spanning nearly every member of the family. Big Daddy comments on it towards the end of the book after he is told the truth by Brick, as he questions “What’s that smell in the room? Didn’t you notice the powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity?” According to Big Daddy, "Mendacity is one of them five-dollar words that cheap politicians throw back and forth at each other." The dictionary definition tells us that mendacity is a falsehood, a lie, or a tendency to be untruthful. Mendacity is seen throughout the play and is a negative effect on the characters. All the characters are affected, but some are...
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