What the Buried Child Stands for: A Thematic Study of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child

  •  Feiyue Zhang    


As part of the family trilogy of Sam Shepard, Buried Child has been understood in that the corruption of the nuclear family has been identified as the theme of the play, and the guilt and the secret of this American family is the buried child who is regarded as the incestuous relationship between Halie and Tilden. This paper argues that the buried child is not only the illegitimate child in the family, but Dodge and every family member in the play. First, Shepard builds a multi-dimensional space in the play, in which the passage of time and the experience of characters are different, forming a chaos of narration. There are two main spaces represented in the play; the one is the living room, and the other is the backyard, and Dodge lying in the living room is equivalent to the secret child buried in the backyard. Second, Shepard uses a circular rather than linear movement in the play, which symbolizes that everything happened in the house is a closed story, and as one of elements in this circle, every family member becomes the buried child, or part of the buried child. Shepard titled the play with the buried child, using this image to depict the unchangeable influence of American family’s emotional and spiritual inheritance and how it will affect future generations an even deeper mystery.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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