During the above swift flood of words, Brick has reclined with contrapuntal leisure on the snowy surface of the bed and has rolled over carefully on his side or belly.

This is a stage direction from Tennesee Williams's Cat on a hot tin roof.

I looked it up in the dictionary, it says "contrapuntal" is a music term and means having two or more tunes played together to form a whole. I am still confused with the meaning of the word in the quoted sentence. Thank you so much for replying below!

  • Hello Winnie, Youve quoted a story, Please tell us the source of the story: Title, author and if possible link.
    – James K
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 8:45
  • 2
    Found it. I'll add a citation.
    – James K
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 8:51

1 Answer 1


It is a metaphor. Counterpoint in music is a voice that sings a different melody to the main melody, but harmonises with it.

Metaphorically, Bricks relaxed way of lying on the bed is a counterpoint to Maggie's outburst. It is different, even contrasting with Maggie's attitude, but in some artistic way, it should harmonize with it to form a whole scene on stage.

There are essays that can, and have, been written about Willams's use of poetry even in the stage directions.

  • Thank you so much for your answer. Now I've fully understood the meaning of "contrapuntal" here. I have to say William's wording is really beautiful. Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 6:15

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