Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander is a play about the power of environment in determining one’s life choices and the cumulative effect of seemingly small choices on the rest of one’s life. Preston Jones wrote of his fascination with the meaning of time in human life: “But whatever the story is, for me it would always involve ’time’ because time is not the sun going up and down every day. It is not a clock. It is not a calendar. Time is an eroding, infinite mystery. Time is, in fact, a son-of-a-bitch.” By focusing on three days over twenty years in the life of Lu Ann, Jones demonstrates that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In 1953, the time of act 1, Lu Ann’s mother is supporting her son and daughter. Lu Ann is a perky cheerleader dating a basketball star and apparently has an open future ahead. However, she has no plans except vaguely negative ones. She does not want to live in Bradleyville, and she does not want to work where her mother works. She likes nice cars. Skip’s entrance with his army buddy, Dale Laverty, right after her quarrel with Billy Bob sets her future. Because Dale has a car and a name she thinks is “cute,” she leaves town with him instead of going to the senior picnic with Billy Bob. Lu Ann’s brother Skip has already determined his future. He tells Dale that he turned down a chance to be co-owner of a Western Auto store because he has bigger, if vague, plans. He already drinks too...

(The entire section is 518 words.)