Long Day's Journey Into Night
by Eugene O'Neill
Long Day's Journey Into Night Memory and The Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
Yes, forget! Forget everything and face nothing! It's a convenient philosophy if you've no ambition in life except to – (1.1.45)
Yelling at Jamie here, James criticizes his practice of ignoring anything that's inconvenient, and struggling only when necessary. Jamie tires of arguments quickly, and would prefer to have everyone forget their gripes for a while. Still, it's important to note that Jamie's apathy really only applies actively to his own life – with regard to Edmund and Mary, he wants to face their sickness and addiction, respectively.
That's what makes it so hard – for all of us. We can't forget. (1.1.228)
As we mention in the quotes for the "Suffering" theme, Mary is incapable of taking her own advice here. Not only can she not let things go, she constantly obsesses over what is passed – though she keeps instructing her family members to do what she can't and forget. Her inability to forget the past is a driving force behind the decline of Mary's character.
James! You mustn't remember! You mustn't humiliate me so! (2.2.99)
Right after Mary finishes reminding James how all her friends abandoned her when she married an actor, James reminds her of the time she ran out of morphine and tried to throw herself off the dock. This is too much for Mary, and she begs James not just to keep the thought to himself, but also not to remember it in the first place. Mary keeps insisting that no one can forget the scars life has given them, but in truth, she wants all bad things to be forgotten, especially if they're bad things she's done.