Date of Award

Spring 4-27-2016

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English, Linguistics, and Communication

First Advisor

Richards, Gary

Major or Concentration



The paper, "Crushed Violets and Collapsed Daughters: Gutman, Boss Finley, and Power in Tennessee Williams' Camino Real and Sweet Bird of Youth," examines two largely overlooked Tennessee Williams' characters and how they exercise their power. This paper argues that Gutman is ultimately the more sinister and powerful authority figure because Williams wrote him during the height of the anti-communist movement, which threatened Williams personally. While both characters share the similarities of suppressing deviants and maintaining their power through the division of those beneath them and the use of rhetoric, Gutman and Boss Finley have striking differences. Boss Finley depends on his image to sustain his authority, making his power fragile, but Gutman maintains his authority through brute force, making him a nearly omnipotent authority figure. This paper also examines the endings of both plays and the historical context during which Williams wrote them. The historical context of the two plays suggests why Gutman is more sinister than Boss Finley: while Williams did not have personal investment in the civil rights movement, anti-communism affected him directly.