Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. M. Julia Curtis


The thesis is a study of the similarities between the protagonists comprising what is commonly referred to as Sam Shepards family trilogy, which includes Curse of the Starving Class, Buried child, and True West. Shepard won the Pulitzer prize for Drama for Buried Child in 1979. His plays have been produced on Broadway until Buried Child was revised in 1996. This study provides a background on Shepards life, and reveals how some of his life experiences have influenced his work, but the study also emphasizes the playwrights use of imagination and invention in the creative process. The study also discusses the influence of his early association with the Open Theatre, and includes an overview of his career, and the uniqueness of his plays which constitute the family trilogy. It also provides the reader with a production history of each of these plays and focuses on the father/ son relationships in the three plays under scrutiny. The thesis includes an analysis of each of the protagonists, their traits, the objectives which constitute their quest in life or their super-objective, their choice, the oppositions they encounter, and their well- anticipated and inescapable transformations into violent, patriarchal figures.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Dramatic Arts and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1998 Steven Craig Eskew