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The Meaning of Escape in Sam Shepard's True West

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2011, 24(2), pp.197-217
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

WonJoo Lee 1

1한국방송통신대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper intends to study Sam Shepard’s brilliant description of the contemporary American society by examining the escape motif in True West. The protagonists of Shepard’s plays try to escape to the places such as Mexico or desert where they think they can still enjoy personal freedom from the oppression of the contemporary American society. Their attempts to escape take place on the stage as a neutral territory which belongs neither to the real world nor to the imaginary space. In True West, after his frustration by Saul, Austin’s escape takes place at Mom’s suburban residence, which corresponds to the motel room in Fool for Love in being a temporary residence for Austin. Considering the west as the ideal space where he can defy materialism of the contemporary American society, Austin tries to escape to the west, which corresponds to the imaginary setting of fantasy literature. However, his attempt is doomed to fail because the frontier he longs to escape to can never be restored in the contemporary world by the rapid encroachment of modern civilization. This suggests that the attempt and frustration of the escape will be repeated and the escape should be conducted in a different way from the way the Old Man and Austin took. Their frustrations indicate that the individuals should not try to escape to the physically irretrievable frontier but plunge inside themselves to find personal integration and harmony.

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