Once I get over my awe, yet again, over owning a book with an endearing typo on page twenty, that was published and printed before I was born (this is a big deal for me since I don’t collect books like a regular collector would, so much as I hoard them), I can read the oranged, tattered pages and find something different about Robert Bloch’s Psycho during this reading.
This go round, I’m thinking about Mary Crane. Although Norman was on the receiving end of terrible abuse from his mother, Mary was the true victim in this story. She eventually even became his victim with her murder.
When we first meet Mary, we aren’t quite sure what to think of her. She is presented as a somewhat hateful shrew who despises all rich people and wonders why Sam Loomis just won’t hurry up and marry her. But she has all rights to be hateful if she wants.
Tommy Cassidy, the rich man whose money Mary stole at the beginning of the story, was a bad actor. He threw his money around and even attempted to prostitute Mary by paying her to go away for an illicit weekend with him. Mary also worked to put her sister, Lila, through school and watched her own life pass her up as she got older with the waning years of being pre-engaged to a man who was in no hurry to make her his wife despite the fact that she loyally stood by his side anyway.
Yes, she stole money, from a man who didn’t need it and probably should have been made to pay her anyway for the mental pain and suffering he could have placed on her with his indecent proposal. She was also a bit of a liar, as she concocted a story about an inheritance for Sam about the origins of the money she actually stole. Mary is also a smoker, lighting up after the light dinner Norman served her on the night of her arrival at the hotel.
Yet, Mary didn’t even argue or fight with Sam when he put off her request that they marry right away so that she was a respectable married woman. Instead, she “…couldn’t afford to pull a bluff, stage a scene and walk out on him like some young girl of twenty…So she smiled, and nodded, and went back home to the Lowery Agency” (Bloch 20). She is a virgin, it seems, since we see her examining herself in the bathroom mirror in her hotel room and thinking “Sam would like [her figure]…it was going to be hell to wait another two years” (Bloch 37). Virginal, respectful of her man and sacrificing. Mary is actually a pretty good girl. Pretty normal, doing the best she can while being battered about and taken advantage of by the people surrounding her.
But the most important thing about Mary is that she decided after dining with Norman and witnessing his pitiful existence with his mother that she would return to town and put the money in the bank like she was supposed to. Mary decided that “…she must have been crazy, to think she could get away with what she planned” (Bloch 35). With that, her idea of a life on the lam was abolished and she determined to put the situation to rights.
Doesn’t her change of heart count for anything? I’m guessing it didn’t. Norman still killed her, violently, and in the movie version of Psycho, she gets killed over and over again each time the directing of that scene is studied and it is replayed.
Then again, it probably was a pretty good deal for Mary to die. That way, she didn’t have to lose her job at the Lowery Agency after Tommy Cassidy lied to her boss and told him she came onto him and threatened to blackmail him if he didn’t sleep with her. Mary wouldn’t have to watch as Sam Loomis fell out of love with her while she waited and waited on his proposal that was never coming. She didn’t have to live to see him marry a younger fresher woman, one who’d leeched off of the people in her life while making her own life full and glorious: he would probably have married her sister, Lila, anyway.
Bloch, Robert. Psycho. New York: Crest, 1961. Print.