“the ties that bind are also those that rip people apart”


[From the film August: Osage County, one of my favorite films.]


“Not even Jean, Bill and Barbara’s teenage daughter, is safe from her grandmother’s foul mouth. Moreover, as the young girl declares her preference for vegetarian food over the funeral dinner, saying that she refuses to ingest the butchered animal’s fear, the whole family takes great pleasure in laughing at her, while uncle Charles, Mattie Fae’s husband, pretends to fall sick at the table due to animal fear ingestion during dinner. This scene resonates with the one in which Violet remembers a childhood memory of great emotional importance, when her mother gifted her with a dirty old pair of boots one Christmas, knowing that her young daughter was desperately hoping for a pair of shiny new ones. Once again, the monstrous coalition of adults against children proves the alienating force of repressed suffering, a vicious circle in which the former victim takes on the role of the aggressor, unable to escape the terrible destiny of the abused who, in their turn, become abusers. It has been argued, in this direction, that “Letts’s real subject […] is that the ties that bind are also those that rip people apart””. [Glavan, Gabriela. 2015. “Family Carnage: Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County.” British and American Studies 21:117-124.]

[Funeral dinner scene above, the “Violet and the boots scene” below.]

See also Johanna McCarthy’s ““Escaping from the Inescapable”: Looking at Familial Abuse in August: Osage County.” From the film, August: Osage County, directed by John Wells, from the play by Tracy Letts (who also wrote the film).


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