While reading the novel Clybourne Park, I was intrigued and puzzled by the inclusion of Bev and Russ’ son’s suicide. The suicide was included in both acts and the play even closed on the son and Bev speaking as he writes his suicide letter. I didn’t understand how this theme related back to the overall theme of race and racism until seeing Loyola’s production of the play.
Bruce Norris’ play revolved around the idea of changing demographics in a community both in the 1950’s and the 2000’s. It showed how similar the two eras are in the way that they treat racial integration into a community. However, an underlying storyline in both the novel and the play was the suicide of the 1950’s homeowner’s son. In Act 1 it was alluded to that Bev and Russ’ son broke under the stress of war, when serving overseas, and killed innocent women and children. When he returned home he was ostracized by his community and committed suicide to alleviate his misery. On the surface this event only seemed to be discussed in terms of how it affected the value of the home, however the theme ran much more deep.
After attending Loyola’s production of Clybourne Park the meaning of the son’s suicide became clear to me. The actors made the theme of community and unity shine through in the play. I think the main reason the suicide was included was to emphasize the detrimental effect a community that turns on its members can have. In both acts we observed the members of a community begin to ostracize its new members based on race and cultural background. However, as the actors in the production displayed this type of behavior ruins lives. Instead we should try to be excepting of others, and learn how to integrate everyone into our communities.