A Mother and Daughters Bond
Marsha Normans play night, Mother is centered on Jessie Cates and her mother. Jessie wants to kill herself and divulges her plan to her mother in an unconventional way of bonding. Jessie tries to express to Mama her dissatisfaction with her life and she wants out. Jessie is busying herself with a check list of things to do she prepared before she takes her life while giving her mother instructions for taking care of herself after she is gone one instance is when Jessie explains to her mother that she had cancelled the paper except for the Sunday paper because Amanda likes to work the crossword puzzle, I called this morning and canceled the papers, except for Sunday, for your puzzles, youll get that one. (Norman) Mama tries to talk Jessie out of killing herself by finding solutions to Jessies unhappiness. We could get a dog and keep him in the house. Dogs are cheap. (Norman) Mama thought that if Jessie had something to take care of Jessie would reconsider but Jessie replied Ive had you, Mama. (Norman) Jessies life is full of taking care of her mother, running the household and nothing else. Jessie appears to have very low self-worth, she feels as though she cant do much. Mama offers to teach Jessie how to crochet, Jessies response clearly displays her lack of value and ability, I cant do any of the nice work Mama. (Norman) Mama showed some frustration with Jessies lack of concern for her own welfare as she snapped, Good time dont come looking for you, Jessie. You could work some puzzles or put in a garden or go to the store. (Norman) Jessie tries to ignore her mothers efforts by continuing on with her conversation as if Mama was saying nothing of importance. I shopped you up for about two weeks already. Youre not going to need toilet paper till Thanksgiving. (Norman) What is so ironic about night, Mothers character Jessie is she has gone through the trouble of making a to do list before she takes her life, making sure her mother was well informed of what and how to do things but never once did she concern herself with the fact that her mother may have needed her here on earth.
night, Mother is a two person play and it is hard to keep an audience connected with so little characters. The sequence of actions keeps the audiences attentions because the characters seem to keep moving. Jessie scurries about trying to prepare her mother for her departure making sure she has the tools she need to take care of herself after Jessie has killed herself. I can almost see inside Jessies mind as she plans to kill herself, she has not thought of changing her mind and the way Marsha Norman arranges the sequence of events kept me reading till the end. The narration and Jessies responses are nonchalant for someone getting ready to kill herself but works well with the personality of Jessie. This on-going debate between Jessie and Mama concerning Jessies decision to kill herself is plotted perfectly in night, Mother from beginning to end.
Norman, Marsha. ""Night Mother." Clifford, John Schilb - John. Making Literature Matter. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009. 154 - 156.