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Maternal Grief and the Role it Plays in Long Night’s Journey Into Day

In this film, the grief of mothers seems to take on a large portion of what the audience sees. This grief that the mothers express is different and varies from mother to mother. In a sense, it is a universal grief that all of the mothers who lost their children experience as whole, but these ways of grieving are different for each and every mother. These women are seen grappling and coming to terms with knowing the perpetrators of the killing of their sons. One woman in the crowd at the trial is struck by the footage of seeing her own son’s death and goes into complete hysterics. She cannot believe she is watching the life of her own child be taken away right before her eyes. She feels this sorrow and loss intensely and shows that intensity with her frantic and emotional state. Not opposed to this, but in a different setting, other mothers of the men who were shot sit down with the cop who took part in killing their sons and ask him questions. They are sad and angry, but they are also willing to forgive. This willingness to forgive the man who played a role in the death of their sons shows the importance of allowing another man the same age as their sons live out his life. He sacrificed telling the truth and telling the real story to these women and for that reason it seems they do not hate him. Hate is not in these mother’s hearts. Their hearts are full of sorrow, confusion, loss, and this element of forgiveness. These women are not vengeful toward a man they would have a right to be vengeful against. This forgiveness they have for him shows the power of motherhood and how they can allow themselves to come to terms and not hold on to a feeling of hatred and anger. This forgiveness shows courageousness from these mothers who are grieving.

One thought on “Maternal Grief and the Role it Plays in Long Night’s Journey Into Day”

  1. I like this observation that we need to be able to read the mothers’ strong responses to confronting their sons’ killers as something other than a lust for vengeance – but perhaps not only in terms of forgiveness, either. Can we tease out other possibilities between these two modes of response?


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