Buried Child Essay Research Paper It

Buried Child Essay, Research Paper


amazing what a secret can do to a person. Keeping secrets among friends can be

fun, or helpful when you need to confide in someone you trust. Other secrets

can do more harm than good. They can fester inside you and cause endless pain.

In "Buried Child," this is the case. The family is permanently

altered by their secret, which becomes a growing moral cancer to them, leaving

each impotent in their own way.The play

takes place on Dodge’s farm. About thirty years ago, the farm was fertile and

prosperous. Dodge and Halie didn’t have a wonderful marriage, however. Things

took a turn for the worse when Halie became pregnant with someone else. It is

suggested that Tilden is the father. The evidence to support this includes the

fact that the baby was small, and that Tilden would sing to it and take it for

long walks all day, just talking to it and treating it as his own. "Tildenwas the

one who knew. Better than any of us. He’d walk for miles with that kid in his

arms. Halie let him take it. All night sometimes." (p. 124) Dodge would

not allow this abomination to grow up and live in his family, so he drowned it,

and buried it in the backyard. We can guess that this is when the farm ceased

to be fertile, and fell into disuse. This is a symbol of the death of honesty

and the birth of the family’s terrible secret.Why

exactly does everything go wrong for this family? We don’t know exactly when

the problems started, but we know that Ansel died on his honeymoon, Bradley cut

off his own leg in a chain saw accident and is now mentally imbalanced, Tilden

is nonfunctional and has been driven out of New Mexico, Dodge is a crazy old

sick guy, and Halie is doing shady things with the preacher. Vince is the only

person capable of facing the world and life, but he too is corrupted by the

secret at the end. The answer to the question is that their secret, the dead

child, is a secret festering them from the inside out. It is unclearhow long

this moral degradation took, it may have taken years for all this to happen. We

do know that it has left everyone impotent. Bradley is

the most vivid example of this impotence. His false leg is his crutch, both

figuratively and literally. With it, he has the most power of any of the people

in the play. He maims and shaves Dodge with no repercussions, intimidates

Tilden to the point of making him run away, and he rapes Shelly by sticking his

hands into her mouth. "With his free hand he puts his fingers into her

mouth. She tries to pull away. BRADLEY: Just stay put! She freezes. He keepshis

fingers in her mouth." (p. 107) Without his leg, however, he no more than

a sniveling infant. "Mom! Mom! She’s got my leg! She’s taken my leg! I

never did anything to her. She’s stolen my leg!" (p. 120) He can’t even

try to get it, just reach out and whine like a baby. He seems incapable of even

adult reasoning.There is a

major difference in the effect this impotence has on Bradley and Tilden. While

Bradley denies the truth, telling Tilden he doesn’t know, he wasn’t born yet,

Tilden is on an active search for the body of this child. Bradley wants the

secret to remain a secret. Tilden wants it out in the open, wants the closure,

even if subconsciously. That’s why he finds corn, carrots, and potatoes out in

the fields, while Bradley and the others see only the rain. The land

represents the soul, and is fertile for Tilden because in his way he is seeking

to right this terrible wrong by revealing the child. When Tilden covers Dodge

with the corn husks, but leaves his head uncovered, he is covering him with

something good that the land, or in this case his maimed soul, has produced. He

is trying to help Dodge to realize that the truth must be told. Bradley comes

into the room and throws the husks off, shaves Dodge’s head and cuts him while he

is helpless, like a punishment for the secret. Then he covers him up, head and

all, with the blanket. This shows a denial of the truth and a denial that it

needs to be told. This situation could also have to do with life. Bradley’s

bruality could show that he wishes Dodge would die, so the secret would no

longer matter. Tilden wants his father to live on and tell the secret, and be

healed.No one

else sees the crops because of the rain, which is a symbol of the secret. For

all we know, it has been raining since the day the child was killed. The others

can’t see through the rain to see the truth, the secret must be revealed. After

the secret has been revealed to Shelly, it stops raining and everyone sees the

crops outside. They can see that it is better to not keep such a terrible

secret. It is important that they tell an outsider the secret because it is a

sort of cleansing to them. They are finally getting this terrible secret off

their chests, so to speak. Soemtimes, realization comes too late to help, though.

In this case, Vince becomes corrupted and a member of this crazy family again.

Dodge dies, but he has let the secret out, like the only thing that was keeping

him alive was protecting the secret from outside view. Shelley leaves because

she is an outsider and has no part of the corruption.It is

interesting to note that no one remembers Vince until he is acting as crazy as

the rest of the family. He is the only one who is capable of dealing with life

outside the house. It is unclear whether or not he is different because the

brunt of the degradation happened to the family within the six years since his

last visit, or if the act of leaving and forcing himself to live away from the

secret changedhim. He

had no knowledge of the buried child until it was revealed, but the problems of

his family members could easily have been passed on to him subconsciously by

everyone else. Their actions could have had a profound effect on the way he

thinks and acts. It is when Vince is accepted back into that family that Shelly

realizes there is nohope for

this family. They are lost. She then leaves them all to their permanent

insanity. This shows that even though the secret was finally brought out into

the open, it was too little too late. A terrible secret kept that long can tear

a person apart.


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