True West Essays

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Through the blurred dichotomy of the brothers’ identities, Shepard dynamically examines man’s double nature to suggest that a balanced amalgam of the psyche’s new West order and old West rambunctiousness may ultimately pave way for an enhanced emergence of identity, the discovery of the true West.

True West, by Sam Shepard, directed by Daniel Goldstein at the Williamstown Theatre Festival 7/15-7/26/09 Set Design: Neil Patel Costume Design: Linda Cho Lighting Design: Ben Stanton © T Charles Erickson " data-medium-file="

Yet, Shepard also delineates these sharp dichotomies as the source of their identity incompletions.

In Scene 7, Lee is seen “struggling to type with one finger,”while Austin “sits sprawled…drunk” (38).

Through the siblings’ understanding that “we’re the same person” and “just sorta’ echo each other,” Shepard illuminates that their clashing Apollonian and Dionysian personalities are not separate from each other but rather two halves of the same man, the same artist (39, 42).

Unlike their parents, with Mom in cold Alaska and Dad in the sweltering desert, the brothers revolve harmoniously in a “ring of truth” (37).Delineate how the brothers change roles over the course of the play. Discuss the significance and meaning of the title True West.Discuss the distinction between "art" and "business" Shepard makes in the play.Through the comical personality reversal, Shepard exemplifies the unhealthiness of a separation of passion and reason from one another.Lee explodes with passion with his Western story, but “struggle[s]”with the absence of Austin’s diligence.w=300" data-large-file=" w=460" class="alignnone wp-image-1053" src="" alt="truewestwtf460g" width="517" height="326" srcset=", 150w, w=300&h=189 300w" sizes="(max-width: 517px) 100vw, 517px" / Shepard utilizes the brother’s foiling personalities and dissatisfactions as the play’s dominant sources of tension in order to portray the dissonance of an unbalanced psyche.A well-accomplished screenwriter, Austin has an Ivy-League diploma and wears a “light blue sports shirt…clean blue jeans,” embodying the Apollonian nature of rationality and stability (Shepard 1).Austin’s accomplished and “clean” qualities are synonymous with the new West’s orderly suburban life and the traditional American Dream of success.Austin rolls with intelligence, but “sits sprawled,” with the defeat of his own script and lack of creativity.Shepard further examines this dissonance through Lee’s script on two men “ridin’ straight into the night…[who] don’t know where the other one is taking him” (29).


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