The play ‘True West’ is deemed a masterpiece of art and draws its inspiration from the American myths about life and culture. It narrates on sibling rivalry. The goal of this essay is to assess the general qualities associated with Austin and Lee and follow the changes of those qualities as the play progresses. Furthermore, there will be discussed an influence of the characters on the play.
Austin appears to be an ordinary, modest and conservative guy. He seems to be living a decent life; he has a house, a family and engages in screenwriting as a livelihood source. Moreover, he shows some level of maturity and responsibility, traits, which every mother would expect from a son. This can be reasoned from the fact that he is left in charge of the house by his mother, who takes a trip to Alaska. That fact, that she leaves Austin in charge instead of his elder brother Lee, shows some level of responsibility and trust-worthiness in Austin. He also elicits an attribute of humility, since he denies the fact that he is an “artist”, when Lee comments his line of work. He instead claims to be miniature working on small projects.
Lee is a contrast to Austin. He lives a carefree life. He is a drunkard as depicted in the first scene of the play. He is also nagging as he keeps on asking question after question, interrupting Austin as he tries to do his work. Moreover, Lee is a thief; he vanished with electronic appliances from their neighborhood. Lee also shows some acts of violence, which could be partly attributed to his drunken state, early on in the play, when he roughs up his brother Austin, who tries to coax him with money. He seems to have his own beliefs and rules, since he refuses to accept money offered by his brother in exchange for forsaking his plans to rob the houses in his mother’s neighborhood. He insists he is not like his father, who unlike him, could have easily been appeased by the money offer.
As the play progresses, these two brothers, Austin and Lee, take each other’s character. Austin, the straightforward, modest and ambitious screenwriter becomes a drunkard and a thief. He seems to be eager to abandon his normal suburban life and desires to move to the desert with Lee. He also depicts acts of violence as he strangles his brother with a phone cord, when Lee tries to leave for the desert without him. Lee becomes interested in Austin’s line of work and also feels he can make something of himself. He successfully masterminds a coup for a movie deal with Austin’s producer. Here, he portrays his devious side. He attempts to write a play himself. The roles are reversed, and now Lee is at the kitchen table with a type writer and Austin, drunk, pesters him. He, however, gives up on his quest for a “new west” kind of livelihood, as he realizes that this was not the life for him.
As the two characters develop, we see a comparison and contrast between the “old west” and the “new west.” Austin represents the new west, which is characterized by order and civilization. That is, a suburban way of living. He has a car, a house, a family and a decent job. Lee on the other hand represents the chaotic old west. He is a carefree drunkard, a thief, and a frequently violent person, living in the desert. It is evident that the two brothers are a product of their environment. As the play develops, these two dissimilar brothers pick up each other’s attributes. Initially, none of them was able to develop anything meaningful, but when they picked up each other’s traits and worked together, they did. This could be the writer’s way of depicting the true west. That is, neither the new west, nor the old west could accomplish anything meaningful on the movie deal, but when the two worlds mingled, they were able to finally begin to write their script. This mingling of the old west with the new west forms the concept of “True West”. This play eventually succeeds in bringing out traits that define our today lives.