Using the church to bolster false beliefs, she purposefully misremembers the past to repress the truths that have started to surface. In one of the stories—“Hail From Nowhere”—a man (the author?) Young, strong, and untouched by the terrible family secret that has crippled the rest of the men in the household, Vince introduces a renewed spirit of hope into the grim ceremony. He feels alienated from the director when, sick with “la turista,” he cries over a lost love (“I barely know the man”). Because the United States agreed to harbor the Shah of Iran during his political exile in 1979, Iranian militants, led by the Muslim extremist Ayatollah Khomeini, seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took more than fifty hostages. This moment also echoes Shelly’s conversation earlier in the act with Dodge, where Dodge used Tilden as way of redirecting the focus away from his own past. Finally, exasperated, she storms out, telling Vince, “I can’t hang around for this. At first glance, this photo seems to depict the stereotypical, idyllic, “Norman-Rockwell-type” American family, and yet at a closer glance there are things very out of place—the mother seems estranged, and there is a baby who has now mysteriously disappeared. Colleges in Texas and Michigan are named in lawsuits by disgruntled student applicants, and forced to abandon admissions and hiring practices that favor minority applicants. Dodge is one of the most important figures in the play. Straight back as far as they’d take me.” Vince’s experience is a reminder of the interconnectedness of individuals, families, and whole communities in America and lends the play’s climax a faint glimmer of hope. Dodge hollers for more whiskey and rails about the haircut he was given while he was asleep, which has left him with patchy bald spots and cuts on his scalp. Hart, Lynda. Buried Child is Sam Shepard’s best play. “And I’ll do whatever I have to do to survive. Just get me a Chevy,” he remarks. The outsider is able to grab the attention of the other characters by stooping to their level and speaking their language of violence. In the Nation, Harold Clurman wrote, “What strikes the ear and eye is comic, occasionally hilarious behavior and speech at which one laughs while remaining slightly puzzled and dismayed (if not resentful), and perhaps indefinably saddened. His Uncle Bradley appears and terrorizes Shelly. Buried Child is an outstanding piece of American tragic drama, but far from the typical 20th Century family we idealized. Dodge’s death completes the transference of power, as he is “buried” yet again. His characters are obsessed with American myths and metaphors—cowboys and Indians, ranches, deserts, and other wide open spaces—and often the plots of his plays parallel familiar folk tales or religious parables. “I’m not an actor. It is useless to try to retell the plot, minimalist yet convoluted, but sense can be made of the seemingly preposterous: Shepard gives us his family’s and his country’s history as reflected in a fun-house mirror, the very distortions grinning their way to the core of an insidiously incisive truth. She describes what she and Vince had hoped to find—the perfect American family he remembered from his past. Throughout his career, Shepard has dealt with mythic subjects and archetypal characters in his plays, lending his work a sense of mystery, ritual, and atavistic purpose.

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