Long Day's Journey Into Night

Long Day's Journey Into Night Summary and Analysis of Act II, Scene Two


The family comes in from the parlor a half hour later. Mary complains wearily about the difficulty of finding good help for a summer home. She chides Edmund for not having eaten enough. She continues to complain about how she has never had a home since she married Tyrone. She also complains that Tyrone is planning yet another bad real estate investment. Dr. Hardy calls, and from Tyrone's manner it seems that the news is not good. Mary launches into a tirade against Tyrone's preference for cheap doctors. She speaks bitterly of their inability to help her, and the part they played in her addiction. She goes upstairs, presumably to shoot up again. The men argue: Edmund attacks Jamie's pessimism, Jamie attacks Edmund's taste in philosophers, and Tyrone attacks both of them for abandoning their faith in the Catholic Church. Tyrone no longer goes to Church, but he retains his faith.

Edmund goes upstairs to try to talk to Mary. While he is gone, Tyrone reveals to Jamie that Edmund does, in fact, have consumption: Dr. Hardy just gave him the news over the phone. The two men almost immediately start arguing: Jamie worries that Tyrone will send Edmund to a second-rate sanatorium, and Tyrone, appallingly, defends his thrift and argues that a more expensive place is not necessarily better. Jamie decides to go into town with Edmund to see the doctor.

As he is leaving, Mary comes downstairs. She urges Tyrone to go easier on Jamie (she saw his unhappy expression); she also takes a shot at him (and herself) by saying that Jamie would be a better man if he'd been raised in a real home. Tyrone tries to persuade Mary to go for a drive, but it turns into an argument about Tyrone's stinginess, his unwillingness to spend money on anything, and Mary's loneliness and problems with morphine. Mary lost many friends when she married Tyrone, because he was an actor, and because there was a scandal when an old mistress sued him. We also learn that between Jamie and Edmund, Mary had another baby, Eugene, who died. Edmund was born in part to replace Eugene: Mary wanted another baby badly, but she was terrified that something would go wrong again. It was after Edmund, when she was in pain, that the cheap hotel doctor gave her morphine.

Edmund comes downstairs. He and Mary have a tense discussion; he is unable to tell her that he has consumption. Edmund makes one last plea with Mary to battle the morphine addiction. She tells him he doesn't know what he's talking about, and then pretends that she doesn't know what he means. She then speaks of having lost her soul, and of the painful hope she has that somehow, through faith, she'll be able to regain it.

The men leave. Mary, talking to herself, speaks of how glad she is that they're gone. But then she wonders why she suddenly feels so lonely.


Note that though we have the build-up towards lunch and then the aftermath, we never see lunch. Family meals are a time of real intimacy; it is the one time of day when people are more or less forced to stay at the same table for an extended period of time. Appropriately, we never see this time with the Tyrones.

The old arguments are repeated, by now as familiar to us as they are to the Tyrones. This time, the participants have changed, as Mary picks up where Jamie left off in attacking Tyrone for being stingy. Mary is also beginning to insist on a point that she will stick to for the rest of the play: living with Tyrone, she has never had a home. These arguments are also expositional. We learn much about the Tyrones' past. Mary came from a rich family, and she fell in love with James Tyrone even though he was an actor. She has spent most of her married life following Tyrone on tour, from cheap hotel to cheap hotel. Resentment is one of the themes of the play: so many hurts have been inflicted in this family, and the pain does not simply go away. Most of the hurt comes from failure rather than malice: though James Tyrone never intended to hurt Mary, his stinginess probably led to her being given morphine. Though Jamie does not want to hurt his parents, he has nonetheless wounded them because he is such a failure. And Mary, though she loves her family, is not strong enough to combat the morphine addiction. Wounding others by failing them is a theme for the Tyrone family.

Religion comes up for the first time in this scene. The Tyrones are Irish Catholic, but we see quickly that both sons have abandoned the Church. The parents no longer attend mass regularly, but they both keep some semblance of faith. Tyrone prays. Mary no longer can pray. She believes, but she feels as if she has turned her back on God, and that she can no longer face him.

Although the play is forgiving and compassionate with all of its characters, Tyrone's stinginess is rather hard to forgive. During his conversation with Jamie, the audience can infer that Tyrone is going to send Edmund to a cheaper sanatorium to save money, and this at a time when he is planning to make yet another real estate investment.

JAMIE: Well, for God's sake, pick out a good place and not some cheap dump!

TYRONE: (Stung) I'll send him wherever Hardy thinks best!

JAMIE: Well, don't give Hardy your old over-the-hills-to-the-poorhouse song about taxes and mortgages.

TYRONE: I'm no millionaire who can throw money away! Why shouldn't I tell Hardy the truth?

JAMIE: Because he'll think you want him to pick a cheap dump, and because he'll know it isn't the truth ­ especially if he hears afterwards you've seen McGuire and let that flannel-mouth, gold-brick merchant sting you with another piece of bum property! (82)

Tyrone does not seem to learn anything. He also does not display any feelings of guilt over his wife's addiction, even though it was his stinginess that put her at the mercy of an incompetent doctor. Apparently, he has learned nothing. He is once again considering cheaper medical care for his son, whose life might be threatened. And he is doing so at a time when he's sufficiently rich to make yet another real estate investment.