Long Day's Journey Into Night
Family Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
Your father is a strange man, Edmund. It took many years before I understood him. You must try to understand and forgive him, too, and not feel contempt because he's close-fisted. His father deserted his mother and their six children a year or so after they came to America. He told them he had a premonition he would die soon, and he was homesick for Ireland, and wanted to back there and die. So he went and he did die. He must have been a peculiar man, too. Your father had to go to work in a machine ship when he was only ten years old. (3.1.85)
As I've told you before, you must take her memories with a grain of salt. Her wonderful home was ordinary enough. Her father wasn't the great, generous, noble Irish gentleman she makes out. He was a nice enough man, good company and a good talker. I liked him and he liked me. He was prosperous enough, too, in his wholesale grocery business, an able man. But he had his weakness. She condemns my drinking but she forgets his. It's true he never touched a drop till he was forty, but after that he made up for lost time. He became a steady champagne drinker, the worst kind. That was his grand pose, to drink only champagne. (4.1.69)
We put these two quotes together because it's important to see that both Tyrone parents come from kind of awful family situations. James's dad was obviously an unsupportive father, abandoning his family with six young kids. Mary, on the other hand, had an alcoholic father and a mother who (we learn elsewhere) was jealous of Mary's marriage and said she'd become a bad wife. Not to get too psychoanalytical here, but it's clear that both James and Mary didn't have great role models as parents, and their inexperience shines through.
I suppose I can't forgive her – yet. It meant so much. I'd begun to hope, if she'd beaten the game, I could, too. (4.1.92)
This passage gives us an angle on Jamie's suffering that we really didn't have before. In addition to finding out that Jamie thinks he has an addiction he wants to beat, we also discover that he was really counting on his mother as a role model, and she let him down. It's interesting to see Jamie admit that he hadn't completely forsaken his family and the idea that his mother could be an inspiration to him. Now, though, it seems like all hope is lost.
You reflect credit on me. I've had more to do with bringing you up than anyone […] Hell, you're more than my brother. I made you! You're my Frankenstein! (4.1.198)
After this passage, Jamie lists all the ways in which he helped Edmund growing up, and then on the next page, he lists all the ways in which he tried to stunt Edmund's growth to make himself look better. Whatever Jamie was planning to do, the fact of the matter is that he really was a parental figure to Edmund, since Mary was usually on morphine and James was rarely around. Most importantly, though, Jamie was saddled with a role he clearly wasn't prepared for. The cycle of poor parenting, which may have begun even before Mary and James's parents, goes on.