Dear followers of my blog, today I would like to share the themes of the book with you. I think, Shepard is encouraging the reader to create their own meaning but I do think there are certain things that he purposefully included such as American dream and the disappointment about it, economic slowdown in 1970’s and the breakdown/failure of the traditional family structure.
The failure of the American dream
At first I’d like to say that this theme, or subtext, is more than typical for the author, you can find it in almost all his plays. In the beginning of the book the author introduces the reader to a typical American family. Nevertheless, later on we find out that the family is not perfect at all. As the parents live on a farm, they are hoping to have children who would take over their farm and take care of them when they get old. However when the kids, Tilden and Bradley, are born, they find out both of them are mentally disable, which causes that the whole American dream fails. Secondly, the character Halie buries a child, but keeps dreaming he would grow up to be a star. This reflects the helplessness of people. The reader is certain of how, according to the author, an ideal family should look like thanks to Shelly, a character telling the audience.
1970’s economic slowdown
The situation of the family and the farm points out how poor the farms are. The author also mentions that the house is breaking down and that there are no money to plant the soil, therefore they don’t grow anything.
The failure of a traditional family structure
The incest is the most important part of this theme and it is also the critical moment of the story – the book is basically named after this. The mother and her son have a child, but it is murdered under weird circumstances. This, in my opinion, is the worst thing that can happen in a family. Another sign of a family breakdown is Dodge’s position in the family – instead of being the leading one he’s the bullied one.