Summary of Sam Shepard’s play: Buried Child
Buried child was penned down by Sam Shepard in 1978. This play is one of the Sam Shepard’s master pieces of all time. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Shepard received the Gold Medal for Drama from the Academy in 1992, and in 1994 he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Shepard is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of more than forty five plays. Shepard won Obie Awards for eleven of his plays including Buried Child. (Amazon) In his family drama, Buried Child, Shepard takes a shocking look at an American Midwestern Family who has buried their dark secret in the field.
This takes a form of paradox because the characters seem intricately entangled to each other by dark secrets; they are also for all time alone.
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In the start of the play Halie and Dodge engage into a hilariously gaunt quarrel wich they seem to have been having forever. Married to Halie, 65 year old, Dodge is seventy years old drunkard, smoker and frequently has violent coughing outbursts. He is seventy years old. Halie spends time with the church Father. The father is an alcoholic and likes to spend time with women. He enjoys the not-so-secret affair with Halie.
Dodge fathered three children with Halie. Tilden, the oldest son shows up after 20 years. Tilden was an All-American quarterback or fullback. Now he is mixed up in the head and can’t take care of himself. Bradley is not considered very bright; he chopped his leg in a chainsaw accident. Bradley has serious discrepancy with Dodge. Ansel, the soldier died in a motel, on his honeymoon with the Catholic Italian girl. Haley believes that Ansel got unlucky the day he married. (Amazon) Vince, Tilden’s son, arrives at the farm house but nobody recognizes him.
When Vince brings his girlfriend, Shelly, home to meet his family, she is at first charmed by the “normal” looking farm house. Bizarrely, no one seems to remember Vince at first, and they treat him as a trespasser and imposter. Ultimately, they reluctantly agree on acknowledging him as a part of their greatly dysfunctional family. Slowly and gradually, the dark secret that the old couple has been hiding from their children and grandchildren starts to pop out like a seed grows and the plant pops out tearing the earth.
Long time back, Dodge buried an unwanted child (the product of an incest relationship between Tilden and his mother) in an undisclosed location. From that point onward, the entire family lived under a cloud of shame that is at last chased away when Tilden discovers the ill-fated child’s remains and carries it upstairs to his mother. This act seems to wash out the family of its curse. Corn grows in the fields where nothing would grow for years. The play ends with a declaration of hope from Halie.
(Theatre) The most important symbol used in the play is the rain, that lets the crops in the field grow. At the beginning of the play rain falls on the family’s farmhouse and all its visitors, washing away the dirt and the smell and, symbolically, the sins of their past. Some of the most powerful symbols in this play are associated with nature and fertility. The dead land where no crops have grown forever symbolizes Halie. It suggests that Halie was past menopause.
The rain that brought the land to life and vegetation and plant life popped out of the dead earth. This particularly symbolizes Tilden’s potential of conceiving a child with his own middle aged mother. Tilden handles to reap the bare fields. (Amazon) References: Buried Child by Sam Shepard, Amazon. com, Amazon (2010), web, July 11, 2010 from http://www. amazon. com/Sam-Shepard-Starving-Turista-Tongues/dp/0553346113 Buried Child, Theatre database, Plot synopsis, n. d. web, July 11, 2010 from http://www. theatredatabase. com/20th_century/buried_child. html