True West

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade August 2001

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With True West, Sam Shepard presents us with the American life. It is an image that is stark and fraught with shadows. Jeffrey Hooper's belief that it is a "frightening indictment of America" is absolutely true. Through Austin and Lee, we are shown as a people lost in falsehood. Instead of caring about what we have and reveling in our lives, we are a society that strives for impossible dreams. Life is not a "spaghetti-western," nor will it ever be.

The character of Austin is the part of us that wants to forget about our mistakes and to live in a dream world. Books take people to another world, allowing them to see things they may never have the chance to see, to be things they never thought possible and to experience lives they never imagined. It is this that draws people to books, and it is this that draws us to our imaginations.

Shepard is not indicting us for ours dreams, but is asking us to realize why we are dreaming. Conversely, the character of Lee represents life at its grittiest. He is the reason Austin lives in his screenplays. And he is the reason we, as a society, strive for the "spaghetti-western." We want to forget about the harshness of the world. Shepard is begging us to realize it.

True West does not condemn us for our dreams, nor does it condemn us for our cruel realities. What it does do is ask us to reach a compromise. We can be rugged drifters with secret desires for Hollywood. Or we can be dreamers with a need for life at its basics. Either way, we must recognize those around us and their dreams. For while those "spaghetti-westerns" may be far fetched, they do teach us a few lessons. Unfortunately,