Why the Trigger was Pulled: An Analysis of Jessie Cates’ Suicide

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Suicide is an act that not only “injures one’s health, hastens one’s own death and… causes premature death” for the individual, but it also negatively affects others around them (Farberow, 28). There are many reasons that drive people to resort to suicide and Marsha Norman explores many of these reasons in her play ‘night, Mother as the protagonist, Jessie Cates, makes the decision to end her life. Throughout the play, reasons as to why Jessie personally decided to end her life are mentioned, but in order to fully understand why she decided to commit this fatal act her surroundings and history must be taken into consideration as multiple influences pushed Jessie over the point of no return.
Marsha Norman was born into a very religious family in 1947 and was taught from an early age to read and write which sparked her interest in literature. Her strict upbringing, the death of her father when she was eight, and her work with disturbed adolescents in a mental hospital are all accredited as inspiration for her works, including ‘night, Mother. ‘night, Mother was published in 1982 and is most likely set in America during the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. During this time period, suicide was a sort of taboo subject, even though death by suicide made up 11% of the total death percentage (CDC of Nevada). The fact that Marsha Norman directly confronted the issue of suicide in her play and that one of the characters actually committed suicide during the play caused an outrage as the reasons as to why people committed suicide had not been fully explored yet. The reasons behind as to why people commit suicide varies enormously and with every situation there is something to learn about the victim and the circumstances that caused them to resort...

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