In 'night, Mother by Marsha Norman, what preparations has Jesse been making for her suicide? Why has she been so careful in her planning? Why did she wait until this particular time to commit suicide?

In 'night, Mother, Jessie has prepared for her suicide by ordering bullets for the gun and preparing for the mess with towels and garbage bags. She has also made arrangements for her mother by pre-ordering sweets, explaining where everything is, and helping her make funeral plans. By planning everything in advance and controlling how and when she dies, Jessie feels she can finally have the control over her life that she has always lacked.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jessie has been thinking about her suicide on and off for about ten years, but she has been planning it since Christmas. On the night that the play takes place, she begins by looking for towels and a big rubber sheet or something similar like a garbage bag. She also looks for her father’s gun in the attic and mentions that she has already had Dawson from the feed store send her bullets.

Jesse also mentions several things that she has put in order already, which shows the audience how she has been planning for this in advance. For example, her mother points out that they are out of snowballs, and Jessie tells her that she ordered a whole case that is coming tomorrow. She also has a list of things she needs to get done that night and to explain to her mother before she goes. For example, she explains what is in the drawer for everything “that there’s no better place for” and mentions where things like lightbulbs and matches are. She also helps her mother make funeral plans.

Much like Jessie’s decision to end her life, her meticulous planning is a way for her to feel she is in control. She has always felt like she lacked control over her life, but by planning exactly how and when to act on her thoughts, she feels as if she finally has a say in what happens to her for once.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial