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'Night, Mother


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A: Marsha Norman Pf: 1983, NewYork Pb: 1983 G: Drama in 1 act S: Living room and kitchen of a house in the country, 1983 C: 2fJessie Cates is about 40 years old. She has a brother Dawson, who is married with children, but Jessie does not like her fastidious sister-in-law. Jessie has been married herself but is now separated from her husband Cecil. Their son Ricky never gets in touch and has had two prison sentences for robbery. Without knowing it, Jessie had inherited her father's epilepsy and suffered from minor seizures, until one day she fell while riding a horse, an activity she had taken up to please Cecil. The fall made her fits much more serious, and she became quite ill. After breaking up with Cecil, Jessie was encouraged to come and live with her mother. The action of the play takes place on the last evening of Jessie's life. In between organizing the household to carry on without her, Jessie calmly announces to her mother that she intends to commit suicide in a few hours. Mama pleads with her, reminds her that her medicine now has the epilepsy under control, tempts her with promises of future happiness, and says that she cannot manage without her. Serene in the face of death, Jessie remains resolute, goes to her bedroom after wishing ‘'Night, mother’, locks her door, and shoots herself.

A: Marsha Norman Pf: 1983, NewYork Pb: 1983 G: Drama in 1 act S: Living room and kitchen of a house in the country, 1983 C: 2f

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 'Night, Mother explores with gentle insight the relationship between mother and daughter. This is accomplished with convincing dialogue and no action apart from the pistol shot at the end. The play also investigates attitudes to death: on the one hand, Mama's natural terror of dying; on the other, the calm choice by Jessie, when, paradoxically she is at last in control of her life again, to go through the doorway to her death.

Subjects: Theatre — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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