True West

by: Sam Shepard

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

He thinks we're the same person.

While Lee noisily bangs away at his screenplay at the beginning of Scene Seven, Austin announces in a drunken stupor that the producer Saul Kimmer thinks that Lee and Austin are the same person. This seems implausible at first, as the slovenly Lee and the proper Austin could not look any less like each other. But Saul does not mistake them by their appearance; he mistakes them based on their function in the creative process. This quotation is the most explicit example of the brothers being the two sides of one creative artist. Lee is all vision but no discipline, while Austin is all discipline but no vision. Each on his own is incapable of producing a screenplay, or any other artistic work for that matter. Together, though they are an extremely violent pairing, the two are able to get work done. In this context, Shepard implies that creativity, by its very nature, is an extremely violent process, but necessarily so. The war that takes place is over the writing of a screenplay. As True West itself is so naturalistic, Austin and Lee can easily be interpreted as nothing but two very upset brothers trying to write a screenplay. However, on an allegorical level the brothers become archetypes, each represent one half or aspect of the creative artist.