Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill

Every week by Saturday morning...
* Read 100 to 150 pages.

* Write 300+ words a week in response to your reading.
* Respond analytically and personally to what you have read.
* Discuss the significance of at least one passage/quotation.
* Discuss the relationship between what you are reading and something(s) else you have read this year.
* Respond to a comment made by a peer (after the first week).


Sabrina said...
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Sabrina said...

At the start of Long Day’s Journey into Night, I was confused about the relationship between each family member. As I went on I came to find out that Mary has a defensive attitude about her son, Edmund. Also, Mary is in bad condition just coming home from an addiction. Throughout act one, Mary is fragile and treated like a child. Her husband, Tyrone, and her son, Jamie, argue and keep secrets from her because they do not want her to be worried. Jamie seems to be the smartest of the family, but they just accuse him of seeing the worst in people. Jamie can tell when his mother is back on morphine. In the first two acts I learned that the family finds Tyrone to be a very cheap person, he gets the cheapest of everything he can find – doctors, homes, painkillers, anything. The whole second act Mary complains about how cheap her husband is and how he has never provided her with a home she likes. She blames him for her addiction and Jamie’s attitude. Mary is back on morphine, and her family knows. The author constantly adds in Jamie’s family members telling him that he is pessimistic and thinks the worst of people. This creates a label for Jamie, but I do think that he is right about everything he says – about Edmund’s treatment, and Tyrone’s cheapness.

Pg 39: Jamie: Eagerly. Yes, that’s right, she did stop to listen outside his room./ Hesitantly again./ It was her being in the spare room that scared me. I couldn’t help remembering that when she starts sleeping alone in there, it has always been a sign—
Tyrone: It isn’t this time! It’s easily explained. Where else could she go last night to get away from my snoring?/ He gives way to a burst of resentful anger./ By God, how you can live with a mind that sees nothing but the worst motives behind everything is beyond me!
In this quote, Jamie knows right from one signal that his mother is back on drugs. Although through the first two acts of Long Day’s Journey into Night the family acts like Jamie is some negative person who makes up lies in his head, he proves himself to be correct. It is significant that Jamie is right about what he says because although the family says he is cynical, he proves to be a realist. Jamie can face the truth about his mother and brother. He knows that sending Edmund to a cheap doctor is not going to help him, just like everything else that is cheap, low quality – which sent his mother into an addiction. This quote is just one of the many where Jamie is accused of seeing people’s worst motives.

Compared to other books we have read, the part that I have just read of Long Day’s Journey into Night reminds me of As I Lay Dying. This is because it is about a strange family. For no other reason than this, I think of As I Lay Dying. Each character is different, but they all seem strange and have secrets. Some are more rational than others, and some are putting up a wall to be able to shield from the truth. But, they are all trying to protect one another. For example, Tyrone and Jamie do not tell Edmund about Mary’s addiction until ten years later, and they do not tell Mary that Edmund is really sick. So, I am reminded of As I Lay Dying simply because it is another weird family.

Megan Keegan said...

Megan K.

When I began reading “Long Days Journey into Night” I was confused with who the characters were and how they were related to one another. However this phase passed very quickly. I began to look closer at the relationship between the first two characters that were introduced. Mary and Tyrone appear to have a very interesting relationship. They very obviously love one another, but when a certain subject is brought up everything changes. Edwurd, their son, has an obvious problem. When he is mentioned, Mary becomes very sensitive and protective. She seems to be very fragile and cannot handle some of the things that are going on in her life. For this reason, her husband and other son, Jamie, keep secrets from her. Personally, I can relate to the way that her husband and son keep things from her. There are some situations in life that are easier dealt with yourself than to involve others. In this case, Mary has a bit of a childlike mentality so it seems appropriate to shield her from some problems. By the second act some things have shifted. Mary starts to blame her husband for her addictions and begins to become unhappy with the way things are. She says that her husband has not supplied her with what she needs. She is medicated through morphine in this act and it is evident that her family is aware. I think that she has begun to blame her husband because there are things in her life that she cannot change but she needs a scapegoat. This reflects the author’s personal views. I agree with what Sabrina has said about him thinking the worst of people and is pessimistic.

p. 16-17

Tyrone: But you musn’t let it upset you, Mary. Remember, you’ve got to take care of yourself too.
Mary: I’m not upset. There’s nothing to be upset about. What makes you think I’m upset?
Tyrone: Why, nothing, except you’ve seemed a bit high-strung the past few days.
Mary: I have? Nonsense, dear. It’s your imagination. You really must not watch me all the time, James. I mean, it makes me self-conscious.
Tyrone: Now, now Mary. That’s your imagination. If I’ve watched you it was only to admire how fat and beautiful you looked. I can’t tell you the deep happiness it gives me, darling, to see you as you’ve been since you came back to us, you dear old self again.

In this quote, it is clear that Tyrone is only saying what Mary wants to hear. He begins by unintentionally upsetting her and then once he realizes his mistake he quickly starts to flatter her. He showers her with compliments such as “it was only to admire how fat and beautiful you looked.” At the end of the quote he says how wonderful it is to have her “old self again”. This makes it obvious that there have been problems in the past with her addiction. This quote is extremely important and stuck out to me. It is the beginning of a long line of lies and complements to try and avert Mary from what is really going on in their lives.

This book reminds me a bit of Jane Eyre. I think that the relationship between Mary and Tyrone is a bit similar. Jane and Rochester were very obviously in love, but Rochester was keeping a secret from her. Although there are no secrets to the scale of this one, Mary and Tyrone clearly have problems with keeping things from one another. You could say that it was for love but it seems more likely that Tyrone just doesn’t want to deal with her continuing to be self-medicated. Jane on the other hand had no problems with abusiveness so she provides a womanly contrast to Mary.

Sabrina said...

Page 111
Mary: “Where’s Jamie? But, of course, he’ll never come home so long as he has the price of a drink left. She reaches out and clasps her husband’s hand – sadly.
I’m afraid Jamie has been lost to us for a long time, dear.
Her face hardens.
But we mustn’t allow him to drag Edmund down with him, as he’d like to do. He’s jealous because Edmund has always been the baby –just as he used to be of Eugene. He’ll never be content until he makes Edmund as hopeless as he is.

Edmund: Miserably.
Stop talking, Mama.
This passage seemed to stick out to me because of the disrespect that Mary has at times. At points, she seems like a sweetheart, but then she falls into these slumps of being ridiculous. It is understandable to be mad at Jamie for wanting to bring down Edmund, but she goes too far. The significance of this quote is to show how Mary will throw Jamie down to make Edmund a better person, but Edmund still will not go against his brother. Edmund’s character is brought out; loyalty. He loves his mother, but he loves his family too much to bring Jamie down. Even if he knows she is right, he tries to keep the peace. Even when Edmund tells his mother about his sicknes, he tries to stay calm.

After Edmund tells his mother, Mary, that he has to go to a sanatorium, she tells him that he has hurt her. She yells about how Dr. Hardy just wants to take away her babies. Mary is going crazy at this point. She is clearly unable to handle the truth. To go back to Megan’s comment, “Mary and Tyrone clearly have problems with keeping things from one another. You could say that it was for love but it seems more likely that Tyrone just doesn’t want to deal with her,” Megan seems right about this. Tyrone has never told Mary about Edmund’s problem because he does not want to deal with her reaction. Now, since Edmund has told Mary, the tables have turned, she knows and has to deal with it. The problem is, Mary is on drugs. This is when Edmund makes the remark on page 123 “It’s pretty hard to take at times, having a dope fiend for a mother!” This is one of the most important quotes of the book. It is significant because it ties everything together. What I mean by this is that no one can seem to face the truth. Edmund is sick, but only his brother Jamie will acknowledge it. Mary is too drugged up to keep one personality. One minute she is depressed and regretful about the way her life has turned out and wants to take more drugs, and the next minute she is lonely without her family and so happy they have come home. By Edmunds quote – this is what he means by it is hard to have a dope fiend for a mother. Then, there is Jamie, he is not even loved by his mother in a way Edmund is. (see 1st quote mentioned!) Mary’s drug use is a big mess. She blames everything on Tyrone, even Jamie’s drinking. Mary is the main problem in the novel; she blames everyone for everything – Dr. Hardy, Tyrone, Jamie, and even herself. Mary is mad she even met Tyrone at times because she had dreams of her own she wanted to accomplish. It is important to realize that Mary blames everything on the people in her life because it shows what have a “dope fiend” for a mother really means.

Sabrina said...


Another important part of the book is when Tyrone and Edmund are talking in act four about drinking and being drunk. A Long Day’s Journey into night revolves its plot around alcohol and drugs. It ruins the family, but also ties them together. They boys drink and go to bars and “whore houses,” and Mary is tied in with her drug use. No one can face reality, because no one is living purely. All they do is complain about one another then make up. Tyrone is always mad at his father, until they agree on a sanatorium that Edmund will go to. Throughout the end of the play, each of them family members fight about something. As mentioned earlier, no matter what the fight it, it is always tied back to Mary. For example, even when Jamie tells Edmund he has always been jealous of him, it is because the attention he got from Mary. Also, Tyrone’s cheapness is a problem that causes fights because it is his fault Mary has turned out the way she has because he got a cheap doctor. It is important to see that Tyrone is cheap because he in some lights has ruined their family.
A Long Day’s Journey into Night still reminded me As I Lay Dying, but also of King Lear at one point. This is because Tyrone mentions that he spends his money on land. Like in King Lear, the King has a lot of land which his is going to give to his daughters; but in A Long Day’s Journey into Night, Tyrone says drunkenly and stubbornly that he is going to spend his money on land, not his sons. As explained in the last post, I am reminded of As I Lay Dying because of the family problems.