Normalcy and Deviance in the Symbolic Spaces of Buried Child

Ádám, András Bence
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Sam Shepard is inarguably one of the most influential (and successful) contemporary American playwrights, if not the most influential one. Although he hails from Illinois, the American heartland, through his symbolism it becomes clear that he is concerned with questions which bear an impact on the whole country, not just his region. Shepard addresses numerous problems, like the failure of the American Dream, the dysfunction of the American family, but perhaps most importantly with the deterioration of traditional American values. [...] Decline is present in almost all of Shepard’s plays. It is usually some kind of imperfection, deviance, or aberration from the normal that signals this deterioration. Buried Child (1978), perhaps his most canonized work, the piece which won him the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is a play that demonstrates this deviance excellently, since it is a text richly imbued with images of corruption. Decay is present on almost all layers of the drama: in the setting, in the characters, in the themes and motifs the play deals with.
Sam Shepard, Buried Child, deviance vs normalcy