The Relationship Between Relatives in Sam Shepard’s Play “True West”
The study of literary works can provide valuable insight into how relationships between people are formed. This also implies explanations of the background and circumstances that affect the dynamics of building relationships. This work explores the changing relationship between two brothers in the work Sam Shepard’s “True West.” A rivalry arises between Austin and Lee and leads to terrifying consequences. Thus, this research paper will analyze the conflict between relatives and what role the title of the story plays.
The play begins with the story of two brothers who met after a long time at their mother’s house. Five years have passed since their last meeting, and the men have changed and grown far apart. Lee is a representative of the play on which he is helping to carry out work called “The Old West.” He leads an average lifestyle that does not distinguish him from other people. However, he is distinguished by his ambition and desire to achieve success and recognition. Austin, in turn, did not have a successful career and, at the time of their meeting, is a drunkard, a thief, and prone to violence towards others (Shepard 45). Thus, the author immediately shows the reader the difference between the two brothers and hints that a further clash of interests and views is possible.
The narrative begins with a relatively moderate and, at the same time, quite tense and slightly strained mood. Then a conversation ensues between the brothers about which of them can better convey life in the West (Shepard 10). Lee, who has lived for some time in the Western territories, believes that his experience can make a more outstanding contribution to the writing of the play. Between Austin and Lee, a lively and heated conversation ensues about the truthfulness of ideas about the actual characteristics of life in the West. Thus, the author shows how romanticized life is in these areas and how people’s perceptions differ from reality.
The central theme that can be traced in this work is the perception and attitude to the truth of different generations and how parenting and parents affect children. Hence, Austin and Lee’s father was a drunkard, a thief, and a tyrant, which certainly left an imprint on his sons. The reader can also follow how Austin tries in every possible way to distance himself from his legacy, working hard on his achievements. He succumbs to his native blood and becomes the same as his father despite all this.
The name “True West” refers to the story directly, as it shows a merciless struggle. It is also possible to characterize what is happening in the harsh wild West, which is mentioned in the play. Brothers Lee and Austin represent two completely different foundations. The first one represents chaos and everything non-systemic that can be, and Austin shows the order that the new West has been creating for a long time. In the end, chaos takes its toll and prevails over order. However, the author emphasizes that order is an imaginary ideal since it is impossible to form an identity and personality in such conditions indeed. Similarly, it concerns the concept of truth, which can also become erroneous. Therefore, people form incorrect values, morals, and attitudes towards money and fame, which are considered the central part of life. In conclusion, Sam Shepard’s work “True West” raises such topics as the relationship between relatives and the influence of upbringing and experience, which directly affect people’s worldviews.
Shepard, Sam. True West. Faber & Faber, 2018.