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True West is an American play authored by Sam Sheppard. It is a playof character study that scrutinizes the screenwriter, Austin, as wellas Lee, the older brother. The two characters that are Lee and Austinare opposite extreme of an imaginative artist. The conflict betweenLee and Austin leads to a situation that reverses their roles as adrifter as well as family man respectively. This paper will focus onLee as one character from the True West play as well as how symbolsare used to bring out the aspect of Lee`s character.
Lee, in True West play, represents the old west. Moreover, he is adrunkard, violent, a thief as well as combative in almost allsituations. At the beginning of the play, Lee is presented as afighter. This is because he spent many months in the desert fightinga pit bull (Bloom 55).Conversely, he is comical in the play particularly when his naggingmakes his brother uncomfortable. Lees says “oh that right you gotthe wife and kiddies now don’t ya, the house, the car, the wholeslam. That right” (Shepherd 174). For Lee, everything seemsunsettled. Initially, Lee used to make Austin life hard. Forinstance, where he repudiate Austin to complete his work and takeshis brothers car keys so that he can use the vehicle to spy thehouses he planned to rob around his mother`s environs.
Lee’s threats towards Austin turns out to be true when he attackshim during a dispute “Lee suddenly lunges at Austin, grabs himviolently by the shirt and shakes him with tremendous power”(Shepherd, 138). This happened when Austin proposed to lend money toLee, and that does not go well with Lee. After the attack, theredeveloped tension between the two, with Austin fearing Lee ‘sphysical violence. Lee is a physical threat to Austin, and he alsoschemes to deal with Austin producer to drag down his project. Thedeal went through well when the producer and Lee meet at the golfcourse for gambling. Lee does not stop there he organizes on how tooverthrow Austin by imitating him. For instance, Lee sat at thekitchen table while tapping the typewriter with a finger despite thefact that Austin disturbed him just like Lee had earlier done (Power,111). Lee`s says “ besides I always wondered what it would be liketo be you.” This shows that each man wanted to be the other. Ultimately, Lee realizes that he have been acting, and he need to bereal to himself thus he decides to go back to the desert. Lee’srole in the play is a surprising one since he catalyzed most actionsas well as causing laughter through the play. Lee rebels overeverything without a cause and clings to the past although it seemsdevoid. Moreover, he has a True West vision that had been old anddestroyed, but he anticipates to recall the truth in the movie he wasplanning to act (Wolf 62).Lee has a romanticized view of the place as well as the time thatwere unrealistic. This was beside his violence, sociopathic as wellas bullying behavior
Lee is a symbol as well as a living character that represented adiverse feature of the individual psyche. While Austin symbolized theego, Lee symbolized identification. For instance, Lee moves fromidentification life based on the pleasure principal (Shenton,n.d) Lee does not care whether his action would affect othershe just cares about his survival. He steals to have money he doesnot care what he eats as long as he full and sadly his relationshipis a platonic one since he cannot remember where his girlfriend, thefemale botanist lives. The relationship seems short term and sexualcategory
Lee writing style is a perfect symbol of his identity. He is neitherconcerned with the structure nor the qualities of narration. He justscribbles ideas as they come to his mind. Lee always has a story totell but barely put it into writing since the narration is in theform of ideas. Conversely, he struggles with the process of writing.Lee recognizes the romantic implication of writing and the generationof writer’s connection by candle light burning in the night as wellas cabin sin the wilderness. However, He constantly tells hisanecdote using his style regardless of how people may think abouthim. Lee seems in need of someone else to write down his story onpaper. He says “you write up this screenplay thing just like I tellya ‘I mean you can use all yer usual tricks and stuff, but ya’gotta write everything like I say’ Sheppard 279)
The use of coyote in the play symbolizes that Lee is turning out tobe primal or similar to an animal. Coyotes symbolized animals in ahuman being and also a representation of the West, untamed land thatnature and violence ruled. At the end of the play, there are moreanimal-like traits that Lee displayed. Lee” begins to circleAustin in a slow predatory way` (Sheppard 270). Since coyotessymbolized an animal that took over the play, houseplants representedthe normalcy that is likely to be destroyed.Austin is expected towater the vegetation while at his mother house and together withknickknacks of his mother represented suburb life normalcy that islikely to be destroyed by Lee. Austin just like Lee realized thattaking care of the plants is contrary to his beliefs and the identityhe had formed. He completely abandons the duty to water the houseplants that eventually dies. When his mother came back from Alaska,she expected to find her house plants growing since they symbolizedorder. Unfortunately, the houseplants were dead, and this remindedher of the chaos that had invaded her home from Lee and Austin. As aresult, she left the house.
In conclusion lee, represented old west and constantly bullied hisbrother Austin. Moreover, his role in the play is a surprising onesince he catalyzed most actions as well as causes laughter. However,Lee is a symbol as well as a living character that represented adiverse feature of the individual psyche. His writing gives anidentity since he does not follow any order and the coyotes make himresemble an animal
Bloom, Harold. SamShepard. Philadelphia:Chelsea House Publishers, 2003. Print.55-56
Power, Cormac. Presence in Play: A Critique of Theories of Presencein the Theatre. , 2008.
Shenton, Mark. TrueWest LondonTheatre Gide, 10September 2014
Sheppard, Sam. True West. New York: Samuel French, 1981. Print.
Wolf, Matt. SamMendes at the Donmar: Stepping Into Freedom,Hal Leonard Corporation,
2003, Print pp. 61-62