Shelby can't have children, which is to say she shouldn't, since diabetes has already weakened her system and she might not survive giving birth. Her fiancé Jackson is fine with this, saying that there are plenty of children in the world who need a home and she can have 10 of them. But human nature, social norms, and the conventional female psyche being what they are, she decides to get pregnant anyway. She survives. Act Two jumps ahead 18 months, and mother and child are just fine.

In case you haven't seen the play or the 1989 star-studded film, I won't specify whether the specter of death lurking in the shadows simply remains there like tense music or reaches out and clutches Shelby. Steel Magnolias is crafty but also crafted well enough to have touched us either way.

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