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Long Day's Journey Into Night

Long Day's Journey Into Night

by Eugene O'Neill

Society and Class Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

MARY
If there was only some place I could go to get away for a day, or even an afternoon, some woman friend I could talk to – not about anything serious, simply laugh and gossip and forget for a while – someone besides the servants – that stupid Cathleen! (1.1.209)

This is the start of a series of lines in which Mary basically dehumanizes the servants in her house, considering them inadequate for real human interaction. Basically, she's acting like a snob, wishing she could be a high society lady for a day.

Quote #5

MARY
With a resentment that has a quality of being automatic and on the surface while inwardly she is indifferent. Yes it's very trying, Jamie. You don't know how trying. You don't have to keep house with summer servants who don't care because they know it isn't a permanent position. The really good servants are all with people who have homes and not merely summer places. And your father won't even pay the wages the best summer help ask. So every year I have stupid, lazy greenhorns to deal with. But you've heard me say this a thousand times. So has he, but it goes in one ear and out the other. He thinks money spent on a home is money wasted. He's lived too much in hotels. Never the best hotels, of course. Second-rate hotels. He doesn't understand a home. He's even proud of having this shabby place. He loves it here. (2.1.58)

At first glance, this seems like another one of Mary's rants about the servants, but there's a lot more that we can learn here. Take a look at those stage directions – why isn't Mary's heart in all this nagging? One likely possibility is that she has complained for so long about this that the issue is more habit than criticism with real emotion behind it. But what if she actually is indifferent to these issues of class? What if complaining about social status is just something she thinks a woman like her ought to do? Perhaps Mary's whole spiel about class and the servants is a product of her own desire to be a part of the class that makes these sorts of complaints, even if the issues don't actually matter much to her.

Quote #6

TYRONE
You've both flouted the faith you were born and brought up in – the one true faith of the Catholic Church – and your denial has brought nothing but self destruction! […]
JAMIE
We don't pretend, at any rate.
Caustically.
I don't notice you've worn any holes in the knees of your pants going to Mass. (2.2.32)

[…]

MARY
I even dreamed of becoming a nun. I've never had the slightest desire to be an actress.
CATHLEEN
Bluntly.
Well, I can't imagine you a holy nun, Ma'am. Sure, you never darken the door of a church, God forgive you. (3.1.27-28)

We've linked the above quotes because we see that both Tyrone parents really want to look like pious, devout Catholics. In reality, though, their Catholicism appears to be more of a social and ethical posture than an actual religious conviction. The Tyrones never, ever go to church, but that doesn't mean they'll cede their families' culture or the ethical high ground.

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