From ‘Home Place’ to the Asylum: Confining Spaces in A Streetcar Named Desire

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When I was nine years old, I made my first visit to a mental institution, the afternoon visit, the guest pass variety, not the “where is your suitcase” and the “this bed will be yours” kind of stopping off. With my father at the wheel of our Ford Fairlane, my sisters and I arrived with him at Norristown State Hospital to see my mother (who had brought her suitcase weeks earlier) after a thirty-five-minute drive on tree-lined eastern Pennsylvania roads. It was my first visit to the site but not my last, for my mother’s brief but thrice-repeated stay was echoed tragically in my older sister’s long-term residency, a life time, really, a life sentence, one that began soon after she reached adulthood.

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