The main two characters Mama Thelma and her daughter Jessie futilely talks about the trivial things and Jessie reveals her wish and plan to commit suicide that night. To commit suicide, she looks for the gun that belonged to her father. Marsha Norman 21 Sep. While cleaning the old gun, Jessie tells her mother that she will kill herself, but Thelma does not believe her at first.

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Produced the year after Beth Henley won the Pulitzer for Crimes of the Heart, the two women ushered in a renaissance of Southern female play writing. Forty-year-old Jessie Cates has battled epilepsy, mental illness, and depression for her entire life.

Following her latest episode a year earlier which resulted in her husband Cecil leaving and divorcing her, Jessie has moved back home with her mother Thelma. Even though Jessie diligently catalogues ever item the pair owns, it appears that she has finally turned the corner in her life. Widowed Thelma has come to terms with the fact that she and her husband never loved each other all that much. Yet, Jessie was always more like her father, from her interests in fishing and horseback riding to her genetic makeup that is the root cause of her epileptic seizures.

As a result, the pair was never as close as mothers and daughters should be. In this short, powerful play, Jessie tells her mother that she is not only contemplating suicide, but that she is about to do it. Both women have baggage lasting for their entire lives, and Thelma in desperation, attempts to talk Jessie out of it. In her tale of Southern grit, Norman brings issues like mental health diseases and suicide to a forefront at a time when society was first becoming aware of the issues at large.

A chilling story that runs the gamut of human emotions, I would be interested in seeing a playhouse production of this tale.


'night, Mother Summary

This evening, Jessie has carefully organized the house and made other detailed preparations for the future while explaining the changes to Thelma, who does not immediately notice anything unusual. Jessie explains that she intends to commit suicide at the end of the evening. Thelma, horrified, at first assumes Jessie is unhappy with their life together. Jessie calmly assures her that she is simply tired of living and has been for some time. Throughout it all, Thelma occasionally bursts into hysterics in which she attempts to reason with Jessie. Thelma rejects all of it, believing that Jessie will give up her plans if Thelma refuses to cooperate, but Jessie says she will kill herself regardless. As Thelma begs and beats the door, the gunshot rings out, shocking Thelma to silence.


'night, Mother


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