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'night, Mother by Marsha Norman
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'night, Mother

by Marsha Norman

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In my youth, I had a strange list of comfort films that I would turn to both when I was happy or feeling blue. My mom never understood why I gravitated to A Trip to Bountiful, Mrs. Brown, Remains of the Day, and my special favorite ‘night, Mother. I’m sure a part of me likes “sad” things, but I think that even as a youngster, I’ve always been attracted to simplistic beauty that is both deep and meaningful. It’s hard to marry these elements, especially in literature and film, but when I come across them, I have to snatch them up!

I am currently reading a literary thriller wherein the victim was murdered in such a way as to call in to question whether it was self-administered. When perusing the victim’s bedroom, the uncanny order of the closets lead one of the detectives to question whether the victim had “arranged” things in preparation for death, as is common with many people contemplating suicide. I couldn’t help but remember ‘night, Mother, which I had no idea was play—further yet, that it garnered the Pulitzer Prize in 1983.

A one-act play spanning a few hours, this quite simply is the story of a woman, Jessie, preparing for her death, and her candid, endearing conversation with her mother, who desperately tries to both understand and dissuade her daughter from taking her life. It is such a beautifully written play, and though it’s heavy in scope, I never felt overwhelmed. You find yourself playing the devil’s advocate for both sides, as you’re forced to see how life and its disappointments can snub the life force out of some people who are too “good” for all of the bad out there.
I think the line that just made me lose it was the following, and even reading it now, it just gets to my core!

“…I didn't know! I was here with you all the time. How could I know you were so alone?” ( )
  dreamydress48 | Feb 19, 2014 |
Interesting play. I thought Norman's portrayal of a woman who decides to kill herself was realistic and genuine. She did not step into the realm of melodrama nor did she tie everything up in a neat package. The film adaptation with Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft is pretty crappy, though. Stick to the play. ( )
  JosephJ | May 11, 2010 |
I liked this book a lot- it is a very direct treatise on the arbitrariness of attitudes about suicide. Challenges both the notion that suicide is always a terrible thing and that one does not have the right to do it. The point: who are we to tell another person that they are making the wrong choice? Aren't they in a better position to judge that? These are big questions. ( )
  ahovde01 | Apr 3, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0822208210, Paperback)

This play tells the powerful story of an epileptic woman in her early 40s systematically preparing her own death - and the frantic and touching eff o rts of her mother to stop her. This searing drama, which won the Pulitzer Prize on Broadway, is guaranteed to keep any listener on the edge of their seat.

A L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Sharon Gless, Katherine Helmond

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:26 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

This Pulitzer Prize winner tells the powerful story of an epileptic woman in her early 40's systematically preparing her own death - and the frantic and touching efforts of her mother to stop her. This searing drama is guaranteed to keep any listener on the edge of their seat. An L.A. Theatre Works performance featuring Sharon Gless and Katherine Helmond.… (more)

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