top of page
  • Cathy Sweeney

Steel Magnolias. How Quaint.

Why Steel Magnolias?  Every seen or read the play?  Seen the movie?  Steel Magnolias is a story of friendship and relationships:  between mother and daughter, among friends, and with ourselves.

I’ve determined that at one point or another in my life, I can relate to any of the characters.  Take for example, Ouiser.

 Now this is a woman after my own heart.  She tries so hard to be gruff, and at the same time, to do those things that are typical of a Southern Lady.  She’s so outspoken and curt to people, she’s managed to run off 4 husbands.  (Me, I managed to snag the one who will put up with me for a lifetime).   And, true to my heart, she loves football.  She succeeds at being the group pessimist, only to come out later as the old softy who can have her feelings hurt, and one who prays for those who need it most.  I especially like her relationship with Clairee.

Clairee brings Ouiser down to earth.   Clairee is from old money.  She’s a widow who’s looking for her late in life adventure.  She finds it when she purchases the local radio station!  She’s a die hard and fierce friend in times of need, and she understands the value of laughter and keeping things light.  She’s also willing to try anything at all, at least once, no matter how late in life.  I am lucky to have a Clairee in my life.  I couldn’t live life without her.  And I hope you have one, too.

Annelle, I have decided, has one characteristic that I struggle with daily:  moderation.  With Annelle, it’s either 100% on or 100% off.  She’s either drinking and smoking; or she’s praying at a church revival.  Towards the end of the movie, she has learned enough to tell her husband to “lighten up.”  But I can tell you, certainly, I have shared in her struggles.  Even so, her heart is in the right place, and I hope, even on my worst days, those who know me can say the same about me.

Truvy – I love Truvy’s lines in the movie.  They say so much about her.  “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”  “I’m just fightin’ with my husband, I can do that anytime.”  “When it comes to pain and suffering, she’s right up there with Elizabeth Taylor.”  Truvy has that gift of gab, and reminds me of sitting at the kitchen table with my aunts and cousins in Arkansas, spinning a story of ” ‘member when…..”.  Which is why I like her so much.

But the most intriguing relationship to watch is that between mother and daughter.  M’lynn and Shelby.

These two can go at it, that’s for sure.  I don’t know if the relationship reminds me more of the one I have with my mother or the one I have with my daughter.  Perhaps that’s why it’s so intriguing.  I can see me, the daughter that I was and am, in the stubbornness turned to friendship.  And I can see myself in the motherly Sally Field who only wants her daughter to be happy and will go to great lengths to ensure that it happens.   I know there are days that I drive my daughter insane, and vice versa.  And I wait, with as much patience and love that I can muster, for the day that she returns to me, seeing me not with horns growing out of my head, but with adoringly proud eyes for the woman she has become.  I understand, though she is only 17 now, I’ll get her back when she’s about 22.  But she’s well on her way.

I can’t wait.  Until then, I’ll shed my tears as another Steel Magnolia.


bottom of page