Manhood In Shepard's Buried Child

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Register to read the introduction…While on the one hand society applauds the man who marries, has children, and provides them with a good home and everything they might desire, on the other hand, society also displays a tremendous respect towards figures who represent none of these reliable qualities” (142). The American male is undoubtedly met with a number of expectations and may be argued to be under a “double pressure”; he is expected to successfully manage his roles in both the public and the private arenas. Not surprisingly, the public and the private role are at times in conflict with each other; more importantly, it appears that the private role as husband-father is premised on the role that man holds in the public sphere, where he is after all an independent, self-sufficient kind of a man. Hence, the famous remark made by Dodge in Shepard’s 1979 play Buried Child, “You think just because people propagate they have to love their offspring? You never seen a bitch eat her…show more content…
Such an attempt however turns out to be quite unsuccessful since in escaping, the sons are ultimately taking refuge in the same misremembered past that drove their father on the verge of despair. That is what Shepard shows in his last family play The Late Henry Moss(2000).In this play, the character/son is represented by Ray. Much like Vince in Buried Child, Ray, having been away from the family/patriarch only gets pulled back into the vortex of the family. Ray actually returns as a composed and non-violent person whose initial want, to take care of the family and return back to civilized life, transforms him into acting out the violence and alcoholism of the patriarch. Ray has arrived just because he has been informed that his father has died. He then tries to investigate what happened to his father in his last days. He looks for all the possible clues, right from glancing through the family photographs to asking the neighbors. But all turn out to be misleading since all belong to that misremembered, mythicized past. The only way out left then is enacting what the father could have possibly done and this reenactment includes nothing but a performance of the father’s violent acts with Ray, beating his brother, Earl, until he cannot walk , forcing him to clean the floor because he is going to stay and live in their dead father
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