Clifford Odets Drama Analysis
In an interview with Arthur Wagner conducted two years before Clifford Odets’s death but not published in Harper’s Magazine until September of 1966, Odets told Wagner, “The question is really not one of knowing how to write so much as knowing how to connect with yourself so that the writing is, so to speak, born affiliated with yourself.” When he was dealing with the pressing social problems of the 1930’s, which were times of great national pain that spilled over into the lives of individuals and into the conduct of families, Odets was connecting with himself. He was writing from deep personal conviction intensified by moral outrage at a society that could do no better for its members than to allow the economic and social dissolution that the Depression brought.
Waiting for Lefty
Economic and social determinism is significantly present in all of Odets’s major plays, and Waiting for Lefty is no exception. Despite its brevity, it makes eloquent statements on a broad range of topics, ranging from family life to anti-Semitism to collective bargaining to the ecological irresponsibility of capitalist producers of poison gas. The overwhelming question posed by the play is whether workers should have control over their own destinies, a question that recurs in Odets’s later plays. Although the last curtain leaves no doubt about the answer Odets proposes, it is clear that the social and economic pressure under...
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