The Buried Child Analysis
One of the basic foundations of American culture is the nuclear family. When people think of the typical American family, they think suburban neighborhoods and white picket fences. Usually family is thought to be loving and caring, and home is supposed to be a place where you can go to forget about your troubles and be happy. In “Buried Child”, the family portrayed is the complete opposite of the typical American nuclear family. All of society’s norms are questioned by the family, and every member is corrupt in their own way.
Alienation and dissociation are experienced by all the family members as they suffer from the sins of their father Dodge. After the death of Dodge, it is unknown whether the family’s fate of darkness and abuse will continue.The corruption of the family is rooted from the relationship between Halie, the mother and Dodge. The two characters represent the failure of marriage. Dodge and Halie are not satisfied with the outcome of their lifes and the relationship they hold is not a stable one at all.
Halie spends most her time away from the family and is very distant, often times reliving her past and having extramarital affairs to pass the time. “Dodge: They never raced on New Year’s! Halie’s voice: Sometimes they did! Dodge: They never did! Halie’s voice: Before we were married they did! Dodge: “Before we were married.” (Dodge waves his hand in disgust at the staircase. Leans back in his sofa, stares at the TV.Halie’s voice: I went once. With a man.
On New Year’s. Dodge: (Mimicking her) Oh, a “man.”‘(11). Halie is not very stable psychologically because of the “secret” and is very cruel in nature because of this. In the typical American family the mother is supposed to be the glue that holds everything together. Mothers are thought to be nurturing and Halie does not even get close to meeting the qualifications of being that strong symbolic American mother.
She breaks many norms by having an affair with Father Dewis, the protestant minister of the town. Father Dewis symbolizes religion and shows how even religion and or God can’t even save the family from their cycle of hatred and deceit. Halie also has a Incestual affair with her own son Tilden, conceiving a child. This affair shows how contrary the family is in terms of normalcy.Dodge is everything a father shouldn’t be.
He is a drunkard that spends most of his time doing nothing but sitting on the couch drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes. “He doesn’t answer, takes a bottle from under the cushion of the sofa and takes a long swig. Puts the bottle back, stares at the TV, pulls the blanket up around his neck” (8). He often is fighting with Halie and denies his son Bradley, whom is very aggressive and he fears. The father of the nuclear family is supposed to be a strong supportive male who does everything and anything to provide for the family.
Dodge does not at all meet this criteria and he holds a very dark past. It is found out that many years ago that Halie had a child which was Tildens.Dodge not knowing it was his own son’s child was suspicious of the child not being his own. It is because of this that Dodge does the unthinkable and murders the newly born baby and buries him in the corn fields. This action is most likely the most grotesque and anti-normal thing one can do.
To take away an innocent life, none the less a new born baby’s life is demonic. This shows how far away from society’s norms the family has drifted and this secret is what causes the family to go into an even darker circle of hatred.After the death of Dodge it is unknown whether the family will continue the path it was on. Vince who is Tilden’s son has been away from the family for many years. He returns looking for his roots and meaning, only returning to find himself to be unrecognized by his own father and family.
Vince is blind to the fact that his family has a very dark past and present, and brings his girlfriend Shelly along to visit. He soon realizes that the family he hoped to return to was not at all the typical American family. As Vince flees, he has a vision of the generations of his family in his rearview mirror, and he comes to understand his fate and place in the family. When Vince returns he is drunk and violent, much like his grandfather Dodge. He inherits the home and possessions of Dodge after his passing and now is the new, but old Dodge. Vince decides to come back and continue the family’s fate of darkness and abuse.
The play “Buried Child” is a prime example of the opposite of the traditional American nuclear family. The family lives their lives by a completely different code of ethics, and this seen many times throughout the play. Every member in the family is corrupt in their own way and the incest between Halie and her son makes readers realize the horrific fate of the family. There is no hope for the family and this is reinforced by the return of Vince, the new but old Dodge.