Skip over navigation

True West

Sam Shepard

Scene Nine

Scene Eight

Scene Nine, page 2

page 1 of 2

It is later the same day. A midday sun beats down on all of the debris in the alcove, making the total obliteration look worse than it did in the previous scene. Austin is at the table desperately writing on a pad, while Lee prowls around the table without a shirt, demanding that to hear what Austin has just written. Though Austin reads back exactly what Lee has dictated, Lee Lee is unsatisfied, saying that the dialogue sounds clichéd. The brothers squabble over a line, but finally decide on: "I'm on intimate terms with this prairie." The decision made, Lee begins to pour beer on his chest and arms.

As Lee douses himself, Mom appears at the door with her suitcases. The brothers eventually spot her, and in act of chivalry, Lee offers to take he heavy suitcases. Unfortunately, there is nowhere clean enough to set them down, so Lee just holds them awkwardly. Austin clumsily asks about the trip to Alaska, explains that Lee sold a screenplay, and says that the mess is due to an extended celebration over the screenplay. Austin then announces that when the screenplay is completed the two of them are going to go live in the desert. When Mom asks if the brothers plan on living with their father, but Austin assures her that they will be going to a "different desert."

Austin asks Mom why she came back so soon. She says she missed all of her plants, all of which have unfortunately died. Though Mom is temporarily saddened, her spirits are raised when she remembers that someone very important is in town for the weekend. The boys wonder who it could be, and she tells them it is Picasso. Austin tells Mom that unfortunately Picasso has been dead for some time, but she refuses to believe it.

Lee suddenly decides that he has had enough of the screenwriting trade, and makes plans for his immediate departure to the desert. Austin cannot believe what he is hearing, and loudly protests the decision. Lee pushes Austin away violently, and collects some antiques and silverware for his trip. Austin picks up the ripped out phone cord and throws it around Lee's neck. There is a terrible struggle and Austin chokes Lee, unwilling to let Lee leave without him. Austin demands his car keys, which Lee quickly produces, all the while thrashing and gasping. Mom becomes angry and says that she is going to a motel if the boys are going to fight. Austin begs her to stay, but she picks up her luggage and goes, remarking that she does not even recognize her own house anymore.

With the cord still tight around Lee's neck, Austin tries to make a deal with Lee: all he wants is a little head start. He is willing to release the cord if Lee will let him get a little bit of a head start in his escape. By the time he does release the cord, however, Lee has stopped moving. He seems to be dead. After a moment's consideration, Austin makes a move toward the door. Just as he does Lee is on his feet, blocking Austin's exit. They begin to circle each other slowly as a single coyote cries in the distance.


The artistic combination of the two brothers finally arrives in this scene. Lee stalks around the kitchen with his shirt off while Lee sits scribbling furiously. The two halves of the creative artist are, at long last, collaborating in something close to harmony, able to produce something. While as individuals their artistic efforts have been unfruitful, together they seem unstoppable. It is a working relationship—Lee the idea man, Austin the scribe—with each man utilized in his correct role. The struggle for creation that has been waged throughout the entire play seems to find an inevitable end. Until of course, Mom comes home.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us