Long Day's Journey Into Night
Memory and The Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
That God-damned play I bought for a song and made such a great success in – a great money success – it ruined me with its promise of an easy fortune. (4.1.139)
We always knew that Mary's hostility toward the family has been centered around her miserable past, and we knew that James's cheapness is also a holdover from his childhood. Here, we learn for the first time that the source of James's obsessive drive to make something of his sons also arises from his personal history, because he feels that he missed his chance to be someone great instead of just someone rich.
What's that she's carrying, Edmund?
Her wedding gown, I suppose. (4.1. 229-230)
This is a poignant moment – James can't even recognize that his wife is carrying her wedding dress in her arm. Even if he can't remember the dress itself, how can he not know what a long, white, satin dress would be for? It's as if the idea of their wedding has completely faded from his memory.
Something I need terribly. I remember when I had it I was never lonely nor afraid. I can't have lost it forever, I would die if I thought that. Because then there would be no hope. (4.1.237)
We've already spent a lot of time wondering what Mary might have lost (see her "Character Analysis," for instance), but whatever it is, it's something representative of days gone by. The whole play, Mary's been trying to wipe away the memory of the past thirty-six years, but whatever she's looking for is something that exists only in her mind. This gives Mary an awkward relationship with her own memory – she wants to erase a part of it, but another part is the most valuable thing she has in the world.