True West

by: Sam Shepard

Lee

Characters Lee

Lee is the play's representative of the Old West. He is a drunk, a thief, prone to acts of violence, and generally combative in most situations. Before the action of the play he spent a few months out on the desert with a fighting pit bull. However, Lee is also the comic center of the play. His nagging is a hilarious counterpoint to stuffy Austin. At first, Lee seems to exist only to make his brother's life a living hell. He refuses to let Austin get any work done, then demands the keys to Austin's car to make the rounds of their mother's neighborhood to check out the houses he intends to rob. Furthermore, the physical threat Lee represents becomes evident when he suddenly lunges at Austin during an argument about their father near the beginning of the play. From that point forward there is almost an electric tension of the threat of further physical violence.

Lee is not only a physical threat to Austin, however. He also weasels his way into a movie deal with Austin's producer, and actually manages to pull the rug out from under Austin's project. Lee pulls this off through a bit of gambling on the golf course with the producer. After he seals the movie deal Lee begins to pull another coup, becoming more and more like his brother Austin. Night finds Lee sitting at the kitchen table pecking away at the typewriter with one finger, while Austin pesters Lee just as Lee had done to Austin. Eventually, however, Lee regresses, realizing that the respectable life is not the one for him. His decision to go back to the desert is not a surprising one. Lee is the most constantly surprising and vivid characters in the play, and the catalyst for most the action and the laugh track as well.