The fall of the great modern American family myth in Sam Shepard's "Buried Child", "A Lie of the Mind", "Fool for Love", and "True West"




Shields, Lynn Walker

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he purpose of this study is to examine Sam Shepard's pejorative treatment within his plays of the modern American family myth that portrays the existence of a stable, mutually interdependent family unit. This study defines the family myth, both literally and symbolically, and focuses on the myth as it appears in four of Shepard's plays: Buried Child, A Lie of the Mind, Fool for Love, and True West. Within each play, Shepard's uses of theme, characterization, structure, imagery, and symbolism are interpreted as they pertain to the playwright's view of familial relationships. Portions of Shepard's biography are also considered in order to establish his viewpoint concerning the American family. This study suggests that there is a contradiction between the familial themes in Sam Shepard's plays and the idealistic dogma of the modern American family myth as fostered by conventional sociological philosophies. Shepard's plays demonstrate that the Modern American family myth fails to reward its followers.



american literature, literature, theater