Night Mother is a screenplay of a mother who goes through a lot of problems before she finally ends up committing suicide. The woman in question is Jessie who is cast aside due to her poor parenting skills and her epilepsy. She was deemed an unfit parent and also a poor workforce member due to her disease. She does not meet any man and is even scared of venturing out and discovering new sights of the world. In her frustrations, Jessie ends her life. The culmination of events to the death of Jessie is explored in a chilly manner. The people surrounding her each play a different role in the ultimate outcome of her life.
With a keener sense of reflection it is easy for one to know exactly why Jessie chose suicide over life. There is so much that is left hanging and in the balance by the demise of Jessie who most people would want to believe could have led life differently (The Internet Movie Database). Hope and love is a theme brought out clearly in the movie ‘Night, Mother. The conversations that Jessie had if they had been more enlightening and encouraging would have probably built her esteem towards life. Most of the talks Jessie has with her mother are redundant and insignificant hence the preference to her father’s silence while he was alive.
She loved that her father was happy with the small things and was pleased by the keenness shown to his pipe. He loved his pipe cleaned and that was his biggest bother. If clean she was dotted with her father’s love and attention (Dolan 43). However, her mother acted like always wanted to manipulate Jessie. She barely loves Jessie and is more interested in sending her all over than in teaching her or caring for her. Her mother reveals to Jessie that she barely loved her father when she tells her how the love Jessie had for her father was enough for both of them.
Yet Jessie yearns for love and affection and feels it would boost her thoughts about life. When her health improves, and the fear of epilepsy wanes she understands finally how her life revolved around her sickness. She feels her mother is justified in hating her as the sickness consumed all her time and her mother’s time too. She bemoans losing herself to the disease and eventually confesses to her mother that she would rather take her own life for she felt she had already lost it (Demastes 53). Another theme that is evident is role reversal of parent and child.
With the use of medicine Jessie starts to feel as though the sickness is imposing too much on her mother. Each time she takes medicine her memory improves and she is able to recall the effort her mother puts into her health. It makes Jessie want to make more of the matter and she is frequently questioning if her mother is enough to take care of her. With this in mind Jessie takes it in her own hands to take care of herself whenever she can. She also cares for her father a role her mother carried out previously but stopped when Jessie started doing it.
She is at her mother’s beck and call doing all that she requires yet she is the one that needs nursing and taking care of (De Fazio 72). Jessie finds more solace in helping out at home rather than trying to make friends like people her age. She is an isolated child, chained by the stigma that is her sickness. She readily sent and spends her time locked indoors for fear the epileptic attacks may occur during her walks outdoor. She doesn’t seek to venture out of the house and is spurned by neither nature nor adventure. She keeps to herself and no one questions her that way.
She avoids conversation with most people and is seldom seen out of the house (The Internet Movie Database). There is no motivation from her mother to try and discover the world out there. She does not feel the need to do it either. The picture painted of Jessie is a bleak tale of separation from reality. What the mother feels as the prevention of pain and shame for her daughter is actually an ill that grows over time and goes unnoticed. She resents the world and her mother as a result (Brown 91). The family dynamics of this home are complex as they are depressing.
The father is at comfort knowing his pipes are cleans and somehow derives gratification from this. It is like his measure of love for his daughter as he is seldom seen to display any form of unwarranted parent love or care. He just does what is needed, going through life as though it were motions. His daughter, Jessie, on the other hand, makes it her point to clean all the pipes as she desires the attention and care shown to her by her father. She is constantly checking to see that her father is fine and at peace (Flora & Taylor 74). The relationship Jessie has with her mother is tumultuous and rocky.
Her mother treats Jessie more like a house servant than her own daughter. Jessie does not seem to realize this and is seen to gladly go whenever she is sent. She feels the need to help her mother, out of the guilt of not being able to assist her when she is unwell. She assumes most responsibilities in the house and is constantly making plans for the family like an adult. Jessie however does not entirely like her family. She complains that family usually knows too much to which her mother says it is only normal as the family rarely chooses each other and they are meant to love each other unconditionally (Flora & Taylor 116).
In the life of Jessie there is recurrence of determinism and fate. Jessie’s mother feels that she is somewhat to blame for the way her daughter behaves and also for her sickness. She constantly question whether she might have dropped Jessie as a child or if she fed her the wrong kind of food. She confesses that she did not want any more children and she smoked and drunk while carrying Jessie awaiting conception. Jessie tries to reassure her mother saying that it’s just epilepsy and that there was nothing she did that would have lessened the situation.
She is categorical in her stating that it was her fate to be epileptic and to commit suicide. She tries very hard to show her mother that the mother’s decision making affects little or even nothing of her current condition. She is but a mere observer to her state; for she believes either way she will die and is only trying to hasten the process (Flora & Taylor 124). A complex morality also plays a part in the unfolding of the story. Jessie’s mother finds a way to get her daughter guilty of committing suicide.
She reminds Jessie of how she hates being alone or staying alone hence she feels Jessie should stay around for her. She then tries hard to coax Jessie into shelving her plans by asking her to consider the pain incurred when talking to her friends about Jessie. It is clear that her mother felt the gap that would be left was too huge to fill. Jessie then reminds her mother that the reason she choose to confide in her about committing suicide was so that her mother would be at peace and not have to worry and question herself or blame herself for it is beyond her power to change what she feels (Dolan 105).
Jessie further emphasizes the need to know for her mother was her driving force to speak. Jessie does not appreciate how her mother makes it all about her. Even after her clarification, Jessie’s mother is still adamant saying how she is the one whom society will continually shower with sympathy she doesn’t need. She tries more cheap shots at Jessie by telling her how her son will sell all the belongings and go use drugs with that money for lack of guidance. To wish Jessie replies with an equally chiding remark that she will be happy if he found good drugs not cheaply prepared drugs (Demastes 89).
From greatness to fall shows how Jessie envisioned her life with her mother. She always thought she was the prized child but in her death she realizes just how estranged she was from her parents and how she is not a befitting parent to her son either. Thelma, Jessie’s mother, asks her to extend her stay by putting away her suicide attempt to which Jessie responds with an astute no. In her plea, Thelma promises to be a better parent and make a better listener than she usually is. Jessie is sure she knows enough not believe her mother.
She says she wants a dramatic exit where she leaves at the top (The Internet Movie Database). Just by saying this Jessie shows the viewer how out of touch she is with her son. She does not even put his interests into consideration when taking her life. Asked about contacting her brother, Jessie is shocked that her mother talks to her brother and somewhat irritated. She is heard mumbling about how she had been neglected and set aside as though she was not a member of that family. She quickly defends her rift with her son as an unfortunate occurrence brought about by disease.
The children in this family seem to have grown up not knowing parental love or care and consequently lost touch of their togetherness. The sudden announcement of committing suicide spurns Thelma into action and for a moment she is willing to spend even an extra hour with her daughter. In the frenzy she is also trying to communicate with her son Dawson and his wife Loretta (The Internet Movie Database). Even amidst the turmoil of the realization that Jessie will eventually commit suicide the two women still find time to throw humorous statements at each other.
At some point Jessie while making reference to her epileptic attacks says she did not even realize when they happened and was only alert when she woke up and found herself in a different set of clothing. She says they gave no warning and sometimes all it gave off was a light buzz to the head and her lights were out. Her mother later remarks, jokingly, that she had a splendid time watching as Jessie and her father turned on and off akin to light bulbs all through the night. They laugh at this rare moment and share glimpses of what could have been done all through their lives (Brown, 94).
To break silence Jessie is quick to point out how large her sister in-law’s, feet are big and her mother counters by telling her the share a similar foot size with her in-law. Humor creates closeness and aids in filling the empty void of displeasure that Jessie has carried all her life (Brown, 133). The closeness and sentimentality is also seen where Jessie tells Thelma of how she wants all the night to herself. She just wants to be with her mother and no one else should disturb them. She calls the night a private moment for two.
In the sentimentality there is a lot of thought provoking conversations that open the two to learning more of the other. Jessie for the first time gets to confirm that her mother lost all form of affection for her father a long time back. She is neither pleased nor sad at finally getting to hear those words uttered vocally by her mother. She also gets a half-baked confession from her mother who denies any knowledge of the suffering Jessie was going through. Jessie feels despised and takes offence that her own mother would not notice how alone she was yet she was there most of the time (Flora & Taylor 141).