SYMBOL IN SAM SHEPARD’S DRAMA “CURSE OF THE STARVING CLASS”
Submitted to the Letters and Humanities Faculty In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of Strata I (S1)
BY AHMAD FUADI
Approved by Advisor
M. SUPARDI, M. Hum
ENGLISH LETTERS DEPARTMENT
LETTERS AND HUMANITIES FACULTY
STATE ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY SYARIF HIDAYATULLAH
THE APPROVAL SHEET OF BOARD EXAMINERS
A paper entitle Symbolism in Sam Shepard’s Drama “Curs of the Starving Class” was examined by Examination Board of Faculty of Letters and Humanities State Islamic University (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta on 2 February 2010 It has been accepted as a partial fulfillment of the requirements for acquiring the degree of Strata I (S1) in English Department
Jakarta, 2 February 2010
Board of Examiner
Dr. M. Farkhan, M.Pd Drs. A. Sefuddin, M. Pd
NIP. 150 299 480 NIP. 150 261 902
Dr. M. Farkhan, M.Pd Drs. A. Sefuddin, M. Pd
AHMAD FUADI. Symbolism in Sam Shepard Drama “Curse of the Starving Class” thesis. English Letters Department. Letters and Humanities Faculty, State Islamic University (UIN) “Syarif Hidayatullah” Jakarta, 2010.
The objective of this study is to find out the use of symbol in Sam Shepard’s drama. This study applied library research and the compiled data were analyzed through descriptive analysis method. This method tried to find, describe, explain and analyze of symbols by using semiotics theory by Roland Barthes. The unit of analysis of this research was Sam Shepard drama “Curse of the Starving Class” by Sam Shepard. It was chosen because it was containing symbols.
For the semiotic analysis, the writer marked the data by choosing a literary work; the literary work is Sam Shepard drama that written by Sam Shepard; reading the text of play intensely, and classifying the data that were containing the symbols; categorizing that symbols, so that could understood each other; in categorizing all data the researcher put them in the table by synchronizing each symbol with each objects, events, or action; and interpreting the meaning of that symbols.
After analyzing the symbol, it could be concluded that each symbol is containing of different meaning and function. And these differences had given the different ideas.
In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. All praise is to Allah, king of the king, lord of the world who has bestowed upon the writer completing this paper and who has given him the brain to think, the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the hands to write, and the tongue to speak. With all His mercies, the writer can do and utilize parts of body to worship Him and try to be the best creature with belief and knowledge. Beside that, the writer can also finis this paper as well as possible. Peace and blessing be upon to the prophet Muhammad saw the last messenger in the world who has brought us from the darkness to the lightness, from
Many thanks is given to the Dean, H. Abdul Chair, Dr. all the lectures and staff of the English Department of the Faculty of Letters and Humanities, especially to Muhammad Farkhan, Dr. M.Pd., and A. Saefuddin, Drs. M.Pd., as the Head and the Secretary of the English Department, and to the writer’s advisor, Supardi, SS. Who always gives his time, guidance, counsel, contribution, kindness, and patience in reading, correcting, and helping the writer from beginning to the end of this paper.
and despair to take care all her daughters and the son; may Allah forgive her sin and her trespass father, HM. Mista Suhanda, Drs. who always struggles to maintain his family’s lives and encourages him to do and be the best, without his courage,
For all motivations and supports, the writer also gives his gratitude to all friends in the English Department who have been together in sadness and happiness. May Allah blesses us and listens our pray wherever and whenever.
Finally, the writer expects any suggestion and constructive critics to this paper to be better and be best. And he realizes that he is nothing just a man with many mistake and weakness.
Jakarta, February…….. 2010
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ... i
TABLE OF CONTENT ... iii
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION A. Background of Study ... 1
B. Focus and Limitation of Study ... 4
C. Research Questions ... 5
D. The Goal of Study ... 5
E. Significances of Study ... 5
F. Methodology of Research ... 6
CHAPTER II THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK A. Definition of Prose……… 8
B. Definition of Poetry……….. 8
C. Definition of Drama……….. 10
D. Definition of Semiotics ... 12
E. Theory of Sign ... 15
G. Meaning of Symbol ... 18 H. Literary Symbols ... 20 I. Theory of Symbol of Roland Barthes……… 21 CHAPTER III RESEARCH FINDINGS
A. Data Description ... 27 B. Data Analysis ... 36
CHAPTER IV CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION
A. Conclusion ... 52 B. Suggestion ... 54
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
A. Background of Study
Literature is a performance in words. It strongly holds our attention, seeming complete itself; it is not primarily regarded as a source of factual information; it offers a unique delight or satisfaction.1 Furthermore, literature does not only have common-written characterization, but also it offers satisfaction for literature-lover. This is the reason why a reader does not only comprehend and understand the text of literary-work, but a reader is also can get the benefit from the literature if they are analyzed thoroughly, as literature has vast-sense. A reader can overcome the obstacles in his life after reading it, because, most of literary works reflects the real life in society. A literary-work is not restricted by certain rule that can shackle its space. A literary-lover can interpret sense of literary work from the science or the knowledge he or she has known before.
Literature is the process of writing system of a language or we call written language. Poetry, prose, and drama are three kinds of written language; but in this research, the writer only wants to discuss the drama as one kind of it.
Drama as a kind of literary work may express the author’s thinking, feeling or attitude, and wish through the language, such language is not ordinary
language, but it contains of particular language; the language contains sign or symbol.
It would be difficult to imagine someone who is not interested in communication; someone who, for one reason or another was never engaged in investigating the nature of specific message or even the nature of message in general. Such a person would be someone who had failed to ponder how children learn to use language, how pets and animals indicate their desire, how long the gap is between lightning and a thunderclap, how difficult it is to understand computer manuals, how the heart beats faster in situations of fright, how music can be shooting, how people can be placed socially and regionally by their accents, how some actors are accomplished in the theatre but unsuited to films (or vice versa), how certain foods begin to smell after a period of decay, how internet search engines invariably offer barely relevant information, how tabloid newspaper are different from broadsheet one.
In short, it would be a person who is not concerned with the working of signs; and the length and diversity of his relatively short list should give an indication of the impossible of such a person’ s existence. Indubitably, the nature of sings has commonly been conducted through a distorting human lens. In these instances, signs have been considered to be connected to the human capacity for language and ensuing cultural product, with the bias toward the verbal.2
From the list of human problem as preceded above, we understand the important of sign we used it in our daily communication or in the study of literature, such as in the study of poetry, drama and prose.
Sign and symbol used in drama, are usually containing of meaning and function. This meaning and function are usually unclearly and bias. So, the drama as a kind of literary work has to express that bias to be clear. Finally, we don’t find again misinterpretation toward the meaning and function of sign or symbol.
Sam Shepard was one of American dramatist who used symbols, images, and myth in his dramas. He was born Samuel Shepard Rogers in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, on 5 November 1943 to Samuel Shepard and Elaine Schook Rogers.3 After his father left the service, he moved with his family to South Pasadena, California, where he became interested in theatre while in high school, as he said: “I hardly knew anything about the theatre-I remember once in California I went
to this guy’s house who was called a beatnik by everybody in the school because
he had a beard and he wore sandals…and he sort of shuffled over to me and
threw this book on my lap and said, ‘Why don’t you dig this,’ you know…it was
Waiting for Godot.”4 Shepard enrolled in Mount Antonio Junior College, but stayed only one year. He was an American dramatist writing today whose evoke a new sense of space in drama, because he can transfers the values of the American society and its ideal into the emotional landscapes of his plays.5
3 Deborah A Straub, Contemporary Authors, (Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1988), p. 442.
John MacNicholas, Dictionary of Literary Biography vol. 7: Twentieth American Dramatists, (Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1981), p. 232.
One of the reasons for Shepard’s popularity as a playwright was that his unique blend of styles-using mythical American heroes, rock and roll music, poetically unconventional language- and his ability to create vivid dreamlike images and symbols that set him apart from more traditional American playwrights. He was also famous with his plays that won more than two Obie awards and the Pulitzer Prize of Drama; which ‘Curse of starving Class’ as one of them.
In drama ‘Curse of Starving Class’ Shepard used the symbol to make his plays more realistic. The use of symbol in the play was symbolizing any kind of aspect of life in the family, love, relationship, choices, images, characters of people.
Based on the statements above, the writer here is trying to interpret the drama, more specifically the use of symbol in drama ‘Curse of the Starving Class.’ Therefore, the writer plans to do an analysis under the title: Symbolism in Sam Shepard’s drama “Curse of the Starving Class”.
B. Focus of the Study
C. Research Questions
The questions of the research are:
1. What symbols does Sam Shepard utilize in his drama “Curse of the Starving Class’?
2. What are the meanings of the utilized symbols in drama ‘Curse of the Starving Class’?
D. The Objectives of the Research The objectives of this research are:
1. To know the utilized symbols in Sam Shepard drama Curse of the Starving Class.
2. To know the meaning of the utilized symbols in Sam Shepard drama Curse of the Starving Class.
E. The Significances of the Research
F. Methodology of Research 1. Method
In this research, the writer used descriptive analysis method in analyzing the drama Curse of the Starving Class by Richard Gilman which contains symbols, with making table of symbols and analyzing the meaning of symbols in the drama, by using the semiotic approach. The data might be selected, interpreted, and concluded.
2. Research Instrument
The research is the writer himself as an instrument and the subject of this study is the most commonly used one; he gets all information by reading some books and other references.
3. Unit of Analysis
Unit of analysis in this research is the text of drama “Curse of the Starving Class”; it was taken from a book “Sam Shepard, Curse of the Starving Class: A Play in Three Acts, New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1976. This drama was containing of symbols that should be searched and analyzed by the researcher.
4. Data Analysis
data, (1) choosing literary work which contain of symbol; the literary work is Sam Shepard’s drama Curse of the Starving Class, (2) reading the text of drama intensely, and classify the data which contain of symbol, (3) categorizing the symbol, so that can be understood each other; in categorizing the data the researcher put them in the table by synchronizing the symbol with the text of drama (4) interpreting the meaning of symbols by using semiotic theory.
5. Place and Time
A. Definition of Prose
Prose is ordinary language that people use in writing such as poetry, stories, editorials, books, etc. The word prose is derived from the Latin word 'prosa' meaning ‘straightforward’.
Prose comes in two types of text - narrative and expository. Narrative text is defined as "something that is narrated such as a story. Expository text is non-fiction reading material such as Description, Analysis, Classification etc.
B. Definition of Poetry
Poetry (from the Greek " ", poiesis, a "making") is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning. Poetry may be written independently, as discrete poems, or may occur in conjunction with other arts, as in poetic drama,
hymns, lyrics, or prose poetry. Poetry is published in dedicated magazines (the longest established being Poetry and Oxford Poetry), e-zines, individual collections and wider anthologies, although it is rare to see anything other than
lyric poetry outside of collections.
Poetry, and discussions of it, have a long history. Early attempts to define poetry, such as Aristotle's Poetics, focused on the uses of speech in rhetoric,
drama, song, and comedy. Later attempts concentrated on features such as
repetition, verse form and rhyme, and emphasized the aesthetics which distinguish poetry from prose. From the mid-20th century, poetry has sometimes been more loosely defined as a fundamental creative act using language. Digital poetry is a modern form.
Poetry is language with musical elements. Some experts maintain that poetry must contain such literary elements as metaphor and simile. Others stress rhythm and rhyme as the most essential parts of poetry. As with art itself, the definition of poetry is under constant debate. To shed some light on the subject, let's explore the history, function, types and features of poetry, and take a look at some misconceptions. Poetry often uses particular forms and conventions to suggest alternative meanings in the words, or to evoke emotional or sensual responses. Devices such as assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and rhythm are sometimes used to achieve musical or incantatory effects. The use of ambiguity,
symbolism, irony, and other stylistic elements of poetic diction often leaves a poem open to multiple interpretations. Similarly, metaphor, simile, and metonymy
create a resonance between otherwise disparate images a layering of meanings, forming connections previously not perceived. Kindred forms of resonance may exist, between individual verses, in their patterns of rhyme or rhythm.
Some forms of poetry are specific to particular cultures and genres, responding to the characteristics of the language in which the poet writes. While readers accustomed to identifying poetry with Dante, Goethe, Mickiewicz and
and euphony. Much of modern British and American poetry is to some extent a critique of poetic tradition, playing with and testing (among other things) the principle of euphony itself, to the extent that sometimes it deliberately does not rhyme or keep to set rhythms at all. In today's globalized world poets often borrow styles, techniques and forms from diverse cultures and languages.
Great poems differ from others exactly because of these, since their words invoke thoughts and powerful feelings in the listener or reader. Some poets, like the Hungarian József Attila, wrote exceptional poems with words combined in sentences that achieve meaning greater than the sum of the meanings of the words. Some of these became sayings in the everyday language. Across time and cultures the meanings of the words change, and make it difficult to enjoy the original beauty and power of poems.
C. Definition of Drama
Generally speaking, drama is a performance played by actors to speak about the written text. In complete definition, drama is the art of telling a story through the speech and actions of actors. To the ancient Greeks, the word drama means doing or action. Nowadays, drama means the words that have been written down to be spoken and acted in play. Drama is intended to express a meaning, to create a feeling or impression.6
The classification of drama such as comedy, farce, and tragedy, is really general terms to guide us in our understanding of a play. These terms can also
describe the drama or other theatrical forms such as opera or ballet. There are four kinds of drama: tragedy, comedy, tragic-comedy, and melodrama. The first type of drama, tragedy, is associated with a sad and death story with the death of protagonist character. According to Aristotle, it is the imitation of an action of high importance, complete and of some amplitude; in language enhanced by distinct and varying beauties; acted not narrated and with incidents arousing pity and fear.7 Tragedy involves events which climax the story in unhappy disaster. It is probably the earliest form of art, and the one that deals with the most serious themes. Tragedy focuses on man’s struggle against hopeless odds. The struggle can be against the forces of destiny, society, or any other elements that place man in an exposed and doomed position. In tragedy, man can not hope to win, but in his attempts to stand up to his odds, he gains greatness.
Comedy deals with the lighter side of life. Tragedy examines the eternal questions that a man faces during his life and shows how he tries to answer these questions, whereas comedy is rooted more in the events of our daily lives, such as the way humans live together in communities. Many dramatists use comedy scenes in tragedies to lessen the seriousness of the tragedy, as well as to highlight the seriousness of the tragedy’s main theme.
Tragic-comedy, is a mingle of tragedy and comedy. Shakespeare did this collaboration when he arisen the tragedy in farce and arisen farce in tragedy in Anthony and Cleopatra. As Barrows has stated: “This third form resembles tragedy in making use of a temporarily serious action and in raising one of the
tragic powers, and fear. It resembles comedy by employing comic situations and characters and by an ending that resembles of a comedy.”8
Melodrama was developed as a theatrical form in the late 1700s in Europe. Early melodrama consisted of plays that used music in their action. In these plays, when the actor was silent, musicians played music to describe the actor’s thoughts or mood. Melodrama develops a distinctive type of plot involving suffering, dangerous adventures, villainy, and false accused heroes fighting for their honor. The plot usually deals with a man or a woman who is in a difficult or dangerous situation because of the villain’s actions. The hero is usually triumphant in the end and the villain is punished.
When writing the stories of the drama, writers’ aim is to say as much as possible with the briefest as possible. This doesn’t imply that most good stories are brief. It indicates that only nothing is wasted and that each word and detail is selected for maximum effectiveness. Writers choose the details and incidents that contribute most to the meaning they are after; they omit those whose usefulness is minimal. As far as possible they choose details that are multi-valued that serve a variety of purposes at once. Doing so, they use symbols and allegory.
D. Definition of Semiotics
Semiotics is usually defined as a general philosophical theory dealing with the production of signs and symbols as part of code systems which are used to communicate information. Semiotics includes visual and verbal as well as tactile
and olfactory signs (all signs or signals which are accessible to and can be perceived by all our senses) as they form code systems which systematically communicate information or massages in literary every field of human behaviors and enterprise.
The term of semiotic is derived from the Greek word semeion denoting sign. In modern usage the concept of semiotics refers to a theory of signification.9
Semiotic is the study of sign and symbols and their meaning and use, especially in the writing, or method to analyze the sign.10 According to Barthes, ‘Semiology’ or ‘semiotics’ has any signs system as its research object, not only in substantial forms but also in non-substantial forms such as pictures, behavior, melodious sound, concrete objects, and complicated substances found in rites, protocols or performances. In fact, all of them constitute signs system.11 Barthes actually said, the semiotic basically want to discuss how human signify things. So in this study the signs are tolls we used in seeking the way around the human.
Semiotic tries to explain combination of sign; systematically explains the essential, character, form of sign, and the process of its signification. Semiotic gives big attention to everything that can be esteemed as a sign. One sign is everything can be used as a signifier that has the important meaning to substitute something else. That something must no exist or that sign obviously exist in the place at particular time.
Bronwen Martin and Felizitas Ringham, Dictionary of Semiotics, (London and New York: CASSEL, 2000), p. 1.
Alex Sobur M.Si. Semiotika Komunikasi, (Bandung: Remaja Rosda Karya, 2003), p. 15.
Basically semiotic divided into two kinds: ‘semiotic communication’ and ‘semiotic significant'. The first is the theory if sign production which one assumes the fifth factors in communication: sender, receiver, message, media, and reference. So, actually, the ‘semiotic communication’ depends on the goals of communication. But, the semiotic significant is in contrary with. ‘The semiotic significant’ is not discussed about the goals of communication; understanding toward the sign is more important.
The semiotic significant is usually used in poems, drama, or prose. Here, the readers have to understand by themselves about the meaning of symbol or sign used by author in his literary work.
Semiotic significant, in this term, gives big attention to the systematic relation between signs and, the role of combining (code), and the concepts (signified) related to that significant. Code is a set of rule or convention within the Signs can be combined, so enable the massages are being communicated from one to another
And then what is the semiotic approach? How does it work? semiotics takes as its fundamental premise that there can be no meaning without difference .there can be no ‘up’ without ‘down’, no ‘hot’ without ‘cold’, no ‘good’ without ‘evil’. As Greimas says, “We perceive differences and thanks to that perception, the world ‘takes Shape’ in front of us, and for our purposes.”12
There are four basic principles on which the semiotic analysis of text is based:
1. Meaning is not inherent in object, object does not signify by them. Meaning, rather, is constructed by what is known as a competent observer, i.e. by a subject capable of ‘giving form’ to objects.
2. Semiotic views the text, any text, as an autonomous unit, that is, one that is internally coherent. Semiotic analysis begins with a study of the actual language and structures of the text, showing how meaning is constructed and, of course, at the same time what these meaning are.
3. Semiotic posits that story structure or narrative underlines all discourse, not just what is commonly known as a story. For instance, it underlines political, sociological, and legal discourse.
4. Semiotic posits the notion of level of meaning.
C. Theory of Sign
Sign and symbol are important concepts to understand in discussing literature. Even experts define and use them in different ways.
A sign is anything that stands for something else. A sign represents
something—an idea, an experience, a feeling, an object, etc. Words as ordinarily
used are signs in this sense. The object referred to by a sign does not need to be
present for the meaning of the sign to be understood. Context helps define the
specific meaning of a sign. The word ‘tree’ generally stands for a large class of
plants; if we say, "Look at that tree," we are designating a specific meaning for the
A sign has literal meaning; that is, its meaning is simple and straightforward, a matter of conventional agreement among people who use that
A symbol has complex meaning; it has not only "literal" meaning, but also
additional meaning(s) beyond the literal. Sometimes the literal meaning of a
symbol is absurd, so that the symbolic meaning over-rides and cancels out the
literal meaning. A symbol may have more than one meaning. In fact, the most
significant symbols do convey an indefinite range of meanings.
In the context of Christian symbolism, a tree can refer to the cross on
which Jesus was crucified. Thus, in the right context, a tree can suggest a much
wider range of meaning than its simple, literal meaning.
Symbols with fairly fixed meanings can be used as ciphers; that is, the
symbols can be arranged to encode a meaning that only someone who understands
the cipher system can decode. (Symbols used in this way are not really signs
because the literal meaning is not intended; the reader is supposed to decipher the
symbolic meaning). In using symbols in this manner, the author has a clear "story"
(set of ideas) already in mind; the author simply transposes that pre-existing story
item by item into a symbolic system, matching each element in the story with an
appropriate cipher. The reader then decodes the cipher by transposing back into
the original meaning.
Symbols may have very narrow or quite wide ranges of meaning. The
range may be limited to an individual, or perhaps to a small group. People other
symbol's range may be cultural, meaning that it is known by members of cultural
groups: ethnic groups, religious groups, national groups, and so on.
Some people believe that some symbols have a universal range of
meaning; that is, like C. G. Jung, they believe that some symbols occur with the
same meaning across individual and cultural boundaries. These universal symbols
are often called archetypes, especially by followers of Jung. While there is much
evidence to support the existence of universal symbols, or archetypes, one must
remember that any use of a symbol is specific, and that makes its meaning
specific. Just as the word "tree" used in a sentence has a specific meaning, rather
than the general meaning given in the dictionary, so an archetype used in a work
of art has specific meanings, rather than a general meaning one might find in a
dictionary of archetypes.
D. Recognizing Symbols
as a character dies); if the story's opening or closing paragraph focuses on the timepiece; or if the story is called "The Watch"- the watch probably has some symbolic value. In other words, considering how an image is used, how often it is used, and when it appears will help the readers to determine whether or not it functions as a symbol.13
E. Meanings of Symbols
To find the meaning of symbols or allegories appear in a literature work or play is not an easy task. And also to find the meanings of symbols in Curse of the Starving drama, reading from the drama alone will not be sufficient. What happened during the period of writing may influence the productions of the drama. The way of life of American people, its government system, and so on, must also be understood well, when we try to understand the drama better.
Symbol is the arbitrary and conventional linguistics element substitutes the relation of object and its signification. Words, sentences, and signs are the kinds of symbol.
A symbol may have more than one meaning. It may suggest a cluster of meanings. At its most effective a symbol is like a many-sided jewel: it flashes different colors when turned in the light. This is not to say that it can mean anything we want it too: the area of possible meaning is always controlled by the context. Nevertheless, this possibility of complex meaning, plus concreteness and emotional power, gives the symbol its peculiar compressive value.
According to Romantics' view, if one wishes to reach the original, pure meaning of the work of art (including drama), one has to go beyond the product, beyond the object itself, back into the 'state of mind' in which the artist's vision. It is due to the artist represented the human individual at his best, the human spirit at its highest reaches. And as for the substance of artistic work, all begins with a state of mind and ends with a work of art as the product. Therefore, exploring the mind of the author is necessary according to this view.14
There are factors that establish the limits of meaning. Several possibilities suggest themselves with regard to this question: authors, audience, context, society, language, and the text itself.15 1) Author. Nothing would appear more obvious that the author determines the meaning of a text. Indeed, because the author creates the text, it must be the author who determines the boundaries of its meaning. After all, the author selects and arranges the signs of which a text is composed to convey a specific meaning to an audience. 2). Audience. If the author does not determine the meaning of the text, then it could be the audience that does so. Often audiences know better the meaning of a text than the historical authors, and this could be explained by saying that they do because they determine the meaning. 3). Context. It could also be regarded as what determining the meaning of text. 4). Society. Society may also be considered as the
texts and the rules that govern the arrangements of those signs. 5) Language. A language seems virtually to contain in it all the possible texts and their meanings that can be expressed in that language. 6). Text. One of the most prevalent views on this matter nowadays is that the limits on the meaning of texts are exclusively imposed by the texts themselves. 7) Cultural function. A key element that has not been mentioned is the cultural function that the text has, for the function of the text as determined by the culture in which the text is produced. A culture, then, understood as a community of persons who share certain values, beliefs, and rules of behavior, determines the function of texts and those functions in turn establish the overall parameters of meaning.
F. Literary Symbols
A literary symbol is something that means more than what it is. It's an object, a person, a situation, an action, or some item that has literal meaning in the story but suggests or represents other meanings as well. A very simple illustration is to be found in name symbolism. Most names are simply labels. Seldom does a name tell anything about the person to whom it is attached, except possibly the individuals nationally. In a story, however, authors may choose names for their characters that serve not only to label them but also to suggest something about them.
In other stories usually stories with a less realistic surface they will be so central and so obvious that they will demand symbolical interpretation if the story is to yield significant meaning. In the first kind of story the symbols reinforce and add to the meaning. In the first story they carry the meaning.
In addition to having the same associations as conventional symbols, literary symbols may derive additional associations through their use in a particular literary work. Often a character, place, action, event, or object is used to suggest multiple meaning in a particular story.16 For instance, ‘a watch’ or ‘clock’ denotes time; as a literary symbol in a particular work, it might seem to suggest just the passing of time, or it might convey anything from a character's inability to recapture the past to the idea of time running out - or, it might suggest more than one of these ideas. Thinking about an object's possible meanings can suggest a variety of ways to interpret a text.
G. Theory of Symbol of Roland Barthes
Roland Barthes was born on November 12, 1915 in the town of Cherbourg in the Normandy. He was the son of naval officer Louis Barthes, who was killed in a battle in the North Sea before he reached one year of his age. His mother raised him in French city of Bayonne, the place where he received his first exposure to culture.
According to Barthes, symbols always come in form of text or context. In its process of existence, myth concept becomes crucial. Myth itself is not an
object, but it is a form of communication system in delivering messages. Myth is a speech, so all things can be considered as a myth as long as they appear in the context. Myth is determined by its way of delivery. Thus, myth is a message not only in verbal form but also in other forms, such as advertisements, films, paintings, photography, etc. in our daily life. All of them are usually used in delivering message.17
Barthes follows the concept of semiotics of Ferdinand de Saussure, the father of structuralism. He has stressed that semiotic is the study of linguistic meaning which uses the sign system that is the concept of sign “signifier” and “signified”. He makes the systematic model in analyzing the meaning of signs. He focused his concept in “two order of signification”
First order Second order
Source: John Fiske, Introduction to Communication Studies, 1990, p. 88, as quoted by Drs. Alex Sobur, M.Si., In the book of Analisis Teks Media, 2004, p. 127.
Sunardi, Semiotika Negativa, (Yogyakarta: Kanal, 2002), p. 45. Denotation
Here is the diagram of Roland Barthes’s concept “two order signification.” This diagram explains that ‘the first order or the first signification’ is rooted from the structure of Saussure “signifier” and “signified”. It is the relationship between signifier and signified in the sign. It means that the first order or ‘the first signification’ is the main or the true meaning of sign. For example, we have a concept “a yellow flag” in our mind, so the concept as a signified is shown into a real shape or form that is ‘a flag with a yellow’ color. In this case, Roland Barthes, the owner of this denotation which means the true meaning of sign or reality meaning such as the example above, that is the concept of ‘a yellow flag’, it refers to ‘a flag with yellow’ color in reality.
The second order or the second signification is ‘connotation’. Barthes relates the first order or the first signification with the culture or custom. It describes the interaction when the sign interacts to the emotion of reader and to the custom and culture value which create the connotative meaning. For example, ‘a yellow flag’ in form, the true meaning of it, is only a flag with a yellow color, and the meaning change when it is related with the culture of Indonesian people where they define it as a death.
colors. The connotative meaning is the opposite with the true meaning, it related to the Western culture that they say ‘black’ is ‘dark’, ‘devil’, ‘sinful’, and ‘dangerous’.
A concept of ‘yellow flag’ in our mind, is the concept of signifier, then, we prove it into a real shape or form that is a flag with a yellow color, it is a denotation means of the phrase a / yellow flag that/ is a flag with a yellow color. But in the connotative meaning, ‘a yellow flag’ is means ‘death’, that means if there is ‘a yellow flag’ it means ‘death’.
In the semiotic approach, it is not merely about word and images, but it is about an object too; that can function as ‘signifier’ in production of meaning. ‘Clothes’, for example, it has a simple physical function, besides ‘to cover’ and ‘to protect’ the body from the weather. But it has two meanings; to construct meaning and to carry the message. Like an evening dress and jeans, as the clothes, they mean a thing to cover and to protect the body, and the clothes are ‘a signifier’. And the meaning ‘to cover’ and ‘to protect’ is ‘the signified’. Those clothes had two meaning; an evening dress may signify ‘elegance’ with a bow tie and tails for man and beautiful long dress for girl, and jeans may signify ‘casualness’ with certain kind of sweater in the night time or shirt and casual shoes. The meaning both of them as the material to cover and protect body is called denotative meaning, while, the other meaning for them as elegance and casualness is called connotative meaning.
seems from its function, such as an identity of class and status. One kind of food is ‘steak’; where the main function of ‘steak’ is as ‘the basic class’ for human being, but it has other function that can be identified as social classes; ‘poor’ and ‘rich people’.
‘Steak’ is identified to ‘rich people’ because it is one of the high class food, we are able to recognize it from the price which is expensive, there is no matter for rich people to buy anytime but not for poor people, they will think twice for they have not enough money to buy it. Denotative meaning of ‘steak’ is a basic need for human being and connotation meaning is classifying social status. The sifting of denotative meaning to connotative meaning is influenced by the culture. The connotative meanings for the ‘black’ color, ‘yellow flag’, ‘dress’ ‘jeans’ and ‘steak’ are resulted from the local culture where those signifiers are exist. That is why each signifier has many connotative meaning refers to the culture’s imitation.
In the level of connotative meaning, Barthes used the new terminology for ‘signifier’, ‘signified’, and ‘sign’. The purpose is to differentiate between the terminology that is used by structuralism and semiotic. He used the terminology of form for ‘signifier’, the concept for ‘signified’, and signification for ‘sign’. Those are three of the new terminologies that have same meaning with the three terminologies of structuralism.
1 CHAPTER III RESEARCH FINDINGS
A. Data Description
The writer would like to present the research findings in the chart. The chart below portraits the symbolism and the symbolic meaning with their supporting act of its symbolism.
No. Corpus Symbols Denotative Meaning Symbolic Meaning Act/Page
1. Four mismatched
metal chairs are set one at each side of the table.
Four mismatched chair.
Separate movable seat that incompatible to each other.
It symbolizes miscommunications in four members of family. They have different point of view about their life as a family. Thus, it results in constant dispute in their family.
2. elimination of spatial distinction between inside of the house
It is Symbol of spiritual hunger. It was shown by the inability of the four member of family in providing satisfaction for their
Ella: (looking in refrigerator) there are no eggs… (Slamming refrigerator door…)
Emma: goes to
refrigerator and looks inside… (Slamming refrigerator)…
Wesley: (opening refrigerator and staring into it)…
…Ella turns and opens the refrigerator…Emma:
Hungry? Ella: No. Emma: Just habit? Ella: What? Emma: Opening and closing?
Weston: …He crosses to the refrigerator and opens it)… (He slams the refrigerator door…)
Ella: …Now, the first thing is that you should never go swimming…
No action or no activity of making progress unsupported through water using the arms and legs, whether for
It is symbolizes no activity of moving.
Ella: …She’s only just now having her first period.
Weston: What’s the matter with her?
Wesley: …She’s got her first period.
Emma: I’M TAKING THE HORSE...She’ll
pleasure, exercise, or sport.
Four-legged animal used to carry loads, for
It is symbol of a change.
Symbol of masculine, strength and power, great passion and
7. violence and destruction (as
12. represents to Weston as a father in the family.
Symbol of weakness and innocence.
14. Ella: And they come crashing down to earth. Both of them come crashing down. Like the whole thing.
Eagle and cat both crashing down.
Fall or strike suddenly and noisily.
Both are symbolizes the destruction of the family (society) and government caused by capitalist system.
C. Data Analysis
The drama starts a filthy opening scene at the kitchen. The broken door, mismatched chairs, the table, etc. all have implicit meanings. Condition of the family is clearly expressed in the opening scene that will continue until the end of the play. It is messed up and dirty and so is the family, where there will be conflicts and they will start yelling and screaming at each other.
1. Four mismatched chair.
The ‘four mismatched chairs’ symbolizes the lack of harmony in four member of family. The appearance of setting in the beginning of this play has indicated an atmosphere of unharmonious life of family. Mismatched metal chairs, faded curtain, broken door, flying trashes and also an old cart appeared in living room impressing the family life that they don’t have any care to their house’s cleanliness: “Upstage center is very plain breakfast table with a red oilcloth covering it. Four mismatched metal chairs are set one at each side of the
table…red-checked curtains, slightly faded…in this down right corner is a pile of
wooden debris, torn screen…a broken door…and old wheelbarrow. (135)”
family that was indicated them who have own direction and different mind about their ‘live’ (read: dreams).
The house is occupied by four family members, Weston and Ella as parents with their son, Wesley and daughter, Emma. Weston, the father who has lost his function as a leader of his family is unemployment and continually drunk, and wants to live in Mexico like he says to Wesley: “…I could sell it and buy some land down in Mexico…I like it down there…”(159). Ella, is the mother who is dreaming to have a lot of money and take vacation to Europe. As she said to Wesley: “…I’ll let you know when the time comes. And then we’ll get out of this place, once and for all. Wesley: where are we going? Europe…They have
everything in Europe. High art. Paintings…”(143). The daughter, Emma is a teen rebel who always dreams to live in nice and luxury life, also wants to go to Mexico.
“I had the whole trip planned out in my head. I was going to Head Baja California. Ella: Mexico? Emma: I was going to work on fishing boats.
Deep sea fishing. Helping businessmen haul in huge swordfish and
barracuda. I was going to work my way along the coast, stopping at all the
little towns, speaking Spanish. I was going to learn to be a mechanic and
work on four-wheel-drive vehicles that broke down. Transmissions…I like
cars. I like travel…”(149).
told you…you could come with me. Wesley: This is where I Live (146)”. “I’m not staying her forever. Emma: where’re you going? WESLEY: I don’t know. Alaska,
2. The Door.
The ‘door’ is symbol of the aggressive elimination of spatial distinction between inside of the home (family) and the outside world (stranger). The ‘door’ as signifier can be used to signify a thing ‘to open’ and ‘to close’ the entrance building is signified. While the ‘door’ was broken it has full with signification. The relation between the two (the first and second level; the associative total) produces the third level or term the ‘door’ as a sign. And as a sign, it is important to understand that the ‘door’ is quite a different thing from the ‘door’ as a signifier. It is signified by entering of foreigners into the house. Because of the door was broken, anything can come in. Weston returns and got drunkard, and brings anger and spite to the house. Taylor, as the agent of disease, comes and infects Ella to sell the house to him. Ellis enters and brings money in exchange for the house but then takes that back. And finally, Emerson and Slater come to takes advantage of an already weakened body (read: family). It is also signified by the lamb that carrying with Wesley into the house; it’s placed inside the kitchen at the center of the house; that was expressed by Weston with his words to the lamb:
“what the hell are you doin’ in here? (He looks round the space to himself). Is this inside or outside? This is inside, right? This is the inside of
(To himself) right? (to lamb) So what the hell are you doing in here if this
is the inside? (he chuckles to himself) That’s not funny” (156).
Even though ‘the door’ was broken, it is still signifying a potential interior security, as Ella says referring to Ellis’s intrusion into the house: “I know it may be asking a little bit too much to knock when there’s no door to knock on, but do
you always make a habit of just wandering into people’s houses like you own
them?”(174). 3. Refrigerator.
The ‘refrigerator’ is symbol of spiritual hunger. The ‘refrigerator’ as a signifier can be used to signify ‘a thing for food’ and drinks’ that are kept cold is signified. The relation between the two (the first second level; the associative total) produces the third level or term the ‘refrigerator’ as sign. And as a ‘sign’ it is important to understand that the ‘refrigerator’ is quite a different thing from the ‘refrigerator’ as a signifier. It is ‘signified’ by act of opening and closing without purpose by every members of family in every scene. Every time each character go to the refrigerator in the middle of or after a discussion they look inside, find nothing and then slam its door, though they know it is empty; Weston says: “I don’t know why we keep a refrigerator in this house. All it’s good for slamming”
WOULD’VE ASKED SOMEONE FIRST BEFORE I BOILED IT! ELLA: (yelling,
still eating) NOT IF YOU WERE STARVING!” (141-142).
Although Emma (the daughter) and Ella (the mother) are starving, but each one of them denies that they are hungry or belong to the starving class, but the dearth of food in the refrigerator gives the lie to their claim: “EMMA’S VOICE: (Off) THERE IS SO! THERE’S A STARVING CLASS OF PEOPLE, AND
WE’RE NOT PART OF IT!”(142), and also Ella: “How can you be hungry all the time? We’re not poor. We’re not rich but we’re not poor”(143), physically they all deny that they are hungry, but spiritually they are hungry for an identity, role, and function in the family.
Those are indicated inability of the member of family to providing satisfaction for their physical needs. In the other context, it represents to the ‘American dream’ which is supposed to promise ‘plenty’, but one which can no longer keep to that promise, like the refrigerator’ in this family proves to be ‘cold’ and ‘empty’.
5. Never go swimming
to stay at home, because Ella think that her daughter too young to leave the house; to stop dreaming about horse riding and becoming mechanic, even though she moving out of the house to have change in her dream and life, as she says to his mother: “…The Thompson’s have a new heated pool. You should see it, Ma. They even got blue lights around it at night. It’s really beautiful. Like a fancy hotel.
Ella: I said no swimming and that’s what I meant! This thing is no joke…you
don’t want to live in ignorance do you?” (139).
6. First period
‘First period’ is symbol of change. It represents to Emma, who has the wish to work; not for purpose of helping her family; but only, because economics motivation to looking for fun. As a signifier, ‘first period’ can be used to signify the occurrence of bleeding, produce monthly from the uterus is signified. The relation between the two (the first and second level; the associative total) produces the third level or term ‘first period’ as a sign. And as a sign, it is important to understand that ‘first period’ is quite a different thing from ‘first period’ as a signifier. It is signified by her admiring of technology and wishes that she can be a mechanic as her job as she says to her mother: “Emma: I had the whole trip planned out in my head. I was going to head Baja California…I was going to
work on fishing boats…I was going to learn to be a mechanic and work on
four-wheel-drive vehicles that broke down. Transmissions. I could’ve learned to fix
The ‘horse’ is symbol of masculine, strength and power, great passion and excitement. This is representing to Emma’s gender identity. The ‘horse’ as a signifier can be used to signify kind of animal, with the four-legged and used to carry loads and for riding is signified. The relation between the two (the first and second level; the associative total) produces the third level or term the ‘horse’ as a sign. And as a sign, it is important to understand that the ‘horse’ is quite a different animal from the ‘horse’ as a signifier. It is signified by Emma’s first increasingly in the drama with wearing white and green clothing, and taking the jodhpurs and using riding boots and riding on it, as she says: “Emma Voice: (off) WHERE’S MY JODHPURS! ...I’M TAKING THE HORSE!” (144). And her wishes to be a mechanic, as she says to her mother: “I had the whole trip planned out in my head. I was going to head Baja California…I was going to work on
fishing boats…I was going to work my way along the coast…I was going to learn
to be a mechanic.” (149) 8.Lamb
sign, it is important to understand that the ‘lamb’ is quite a different animal from the ‘lamb’ as a signifier. And as sign the ‘lamb’ it is full with signification. It’s signified by act of Wesley butchering of lamb in the end of play:
“Weston: …What’d you do with that lamb?
Wesley: Butchered it.
Weston: (turning away from him, disgusted) I swear to God. (pause, then
turning to Wesley) WHAT’D YA’ BUTCHER THE DUMB
Wesley: We need some food” (191).
The ‘lamb’ is not only an important topic of conversation among the characters but it is also like the refrigerator, an object to be looked at and talked to as Wesley and Weston say: “Wesley: (…he stares at lamb). You’re lucky this is a civilized household. Weston: (to lamb) so what the hell are you doing in here if
this is the inside” (156). It was the iconic center of Weston’s tale from his past at the end of the play:
“Weston: (to lamb as he folds clothes) There’s worse things than maggots ya’ know. Much worse…one time I was out in the fields doing
the castrating, which is a thing that has to be done. It is not my
favorite job, but it’s something that just has to be done…Well, I had
In this drama, the ‘lamb’ as a sign, is placed inside the kitchen at the center of the house; it can be seeing in the increasing of act II, “SCENE: Same set. Stage is cleared of wood and tools and artichokes. Fence enclosure with the lamb
inside is back…” (182).
The ‘Coyote’ is symbol of duality and the outward violence (as predator). It is represents to manipulative people who justify any means to get what they want like Taylor, to find his target on Weston’s family who are so weak and easy to deceit. As Wesley says: “(staring at lamb) Eat American Lamb. Twenty millions coyotes can’t be wrong”(156).
The ‘coyote’ as signifier can be used to signify kind of carnivorous canine mammal, with smaller than wolf is signified. The relation between the two (the first and second level; the associative total) produces the third level or term as a sign. And as a sign, it is important to understand that the ‘coyote’ is quite a different animal from the ‘coyote’ as a signifier.
‘Zombie’ is symbol of social outward violence and destruction (as predator). It is represents to people like Taylor and Ellis. Taylor is a big executive institution which its member is those who have a great influence in providing house. Taylor and his groups merely try to get profit for his company, as he says:
“Marvelous house this is. The location I mean. The land is full of
potential. Of course, it’s a shame to see agriculture being slowly
land. It’s an equation…there’s corporation behind me! Executive
management! People of influence. People with ambition who realize the
importance of investing in the future of building this country up, not
tearing it down” (153).
Upon the suffer of family, Taylor tries to get profit from the poor and working classes like Weston’s family, so that he can run his project and kick the family out of the house., as Wesley says: “It is. It’s a zombie invasion. Taylor is the head zombies. He’s only a sign that more zombies are on their way. They’ll be
filling through the door pretty soon”(163).
Ellis, the owner of Alibi Club represents other social outward violence and destruction who has managed to cheat Weston to sell his house when he was drunk. He trapped Weston by buying Weston’s house with the low price. Finally, he has got the official certificate from Weston because Weston has borrowed money to him and can’t pay it back. So that he is soon able to build a restaurant; like he dreamed it. As he says: “I was thinking of turning this place into a steak house…people stop in off the highway, have a steak, a martini, afternoon cocktail,
look over the valley…place is full of potential” (177).
the Weston’s house to infect the family and takes the advantage from that already weakened family (cause of an identity crisis).
The ‘table’ is symbol of an altar for reincarnation, but as reincarnation its does not happen. It is signified by present the ritual of deliverance from numbness to activity and from death to life, and the act of lying on the table only brings ‘numbness’ or ‘sleep’. As Weston doing in the act two: “I don’t need a bed. I don’t need anything from you! (he finally gets on table so that he’s lying flat out
on it. He slowly goes unconscious)… I’m all right here. I’m numb. Don’t feel a
thing. Feels good to be numb” (169-170).
The ‘table’ as signifier can be used to signify a piece of furniture with a flat top and one or more legs, used for placing things on or doing things at the signified. The relation between the two (the first and second level; the associative total) produces the third level or term the ‘table’ as a sign. And as a sign, it is important to understand that the ‘table’ is quite a different thing from the table as a signifier.
sign. And as a sign, it is important to understand that the ‘lamb’s testes’ is quite a different thing from the ‘lamb’s testes’ as a signifier. It is signified by Weston’s extremely long monologue. He expresses his personal conscious through the lamb that looses its testes cause attacks by the eagle. He narrates how he sees a shadow of giant eagle flying down from cloud and then attack his lamb and take away its testes one day while he was working;
“Well, I was working away out there when I feel this shadow cross over
me. I could feel it even before I saw it take shape on the ground. Felt like
the way it does when the clouds move across the sun. huge and black and
cold like. So I look up, half expecting a buzzard or maybe a red-tail, but
what hits me across the eyes is this giant eagle. Now, I am flyer and I’m
used to aeronautics, but this sucker was doin’ some down-right suicidal
antics. Real low down like he’s coming in for a landing or something,
then, changing his mind and puling straight up again and sailing out away
from me…then turn back to my work…except this time he’s even lower yet.
Like I could almost feel his feathers on my back. I could hear his sound
real clear. A giant bird. His wings made a cracking noise…then I put the
whole thing together. He was after those testes. Those fresh little remnants
of manlihood…I just went back to work again, pretending to be
preoccupied…I was watchin’ the ground for any sign of black ness…I
started yellin but I was standing there with this icy feeling up my backbone
and just yelling with my fool head off…and every time I got that feeling”
Those long monologues describe the loosing of Weston’s power which is he was lost his function as father and leader of his family caused by his great debt, because he was easily seduced by modern furniture, and trading offer that drags him to debt trap. He also expresses his awareness in such a long monologue, that he is tricked by such a consumptive way of life that has brought him to trouble caused by debts he can not pay:
“I remember now. I was in hock. I was in hock up to my elbows…I figured
that’s why everyone wants you to buy things. Buy refrigerator. Buy cars,
houses, lots, invest…at some point it had to be comin’ in. So I went along
with it. Why not borrow if you know it’s coming in. why not make a touch
here and there. They want you borrow anyhow. Banks, car lots, investors.
The whole thing geared to invisible money…it’s all plastic shuffling back
and forth. It’s all in everybody’s head. So, I figured if that’s the cause, why
not go in debt for a few grand if all it is number? So, I just went along with
it, that’s all.” (193-194)
He wants to buy refrigerator, car and land. He has been cheated by economic propaganda. Because of the pressure of the loan which is too big, he cannot effort to settle it. This economic pressure has made him lost his role as a family leader who pays all of the house domestic needs. His position as a father is endanger and made him got depression and become a drunkard.
country where the concept of capitalism is run by the Government. By “capital”, economists mean the ‘means of production’. These include land, buildings, farms, factories, mines, and machines, as well as money. Under this system, businesses are owned and controlled by individuals rather than by the government. In a capitalist society, individuals are comparatively free to decide how to use their wealth and skills, as the freedom of an eagle.
It is a powerful system that has caused the function of a father slowly disappeared. It is symbolized by the eagle that is hunting the lamb’s testes. Weston calls himself as Mr. Slave labor while he is yelling: “(to house) THERE’S NO MIRACLE TODAY! THEY’VE BEEN ALL USED UP! IT’S ONLY ME! MR.
SLAVE LABOR HIMSELF COME HOME TO REPLENISH THE EMPTY
LARDER!” (157). This expression shows his feeling of living and working as a slave, in such industrialized country like America. More and more factories are built. As the consequences, people are shifting their way of life from agricultural to industrial environment.
Such economic system has resulted in materialism where land development and pursue for wealth are more important. Ella mentioned about this: “A lot. Tons. Thousands and thousands are being spent every day by ordinary people just on this very thing. Banks are loaning money right and left. Small
family loans. People are building …” (146). Another statement made by Taylor has made it even more obvious:
“…The land is full of potential. (pause) Of course it’s a shame to see
low-cost housing, but that’s simple a product of times we live in … … We are lucky to live in a country where that provision is possible. In some
countries, like India for instance, it’s simply not possible. People live
under banana leaves.”(153)
And also in his other statement, Taylor mentions that his action is supported by big corporation: “(to WESLEY) you may not realize it, but there’s corporations behind me! Executive management! People of influence. People with
ambition who realize the importance of investing in the future …” (179). Besides Taylor, people who also see the potential of the land are people like Ellis:
“I was thinking of turning this place into a steak house. What do you
think? Make a nice little steak house, don’t you think?...People stop in off
the highway, have a steak, a martini, afternoon cocktail, and look out over
the valley. Nice and peaceful. Might even put in a Japanese garden out
front. Have a few goldfish swimming around. Maybe an eight-hole pitch
and-putt course right out there, too. Place is full of potential.” (177)
Such though has also been followed by Ella, as she says: “This is wonderful property for development. Do you know what land is selling for these
The ‘cat’ is symbol of weakness and innocence; but it is not like a lamb. Although smaller and weaker, it has claws to defend itself. The ‘cat’ as signifier can be use to signify small domesticated mammal that has soft fur, sharp claws, with meowing sounds is the signified. The relation between the two (the first and second level; the associative total) produces the third level or term the ‘cat’ as sign. And as a sign the ‘cat’ is full with signification. It is signified by each character in the family which is innocence and weakness to be forced by invasion of alien social elements like Taylor and Ellis. This family is like most of American family in general who are wide open to predator people. In some cases, such families might fight back, as the case of Emma who shoots Ellis’ bar with a gun. The family is the foundation of every society. When the foundation is broken down, no system or anything could be built upon it, both will be destroyed.
15.Eagle and cat crashing down.