Place plays a thematically important role in August: Osage County and affects all of the characters. In the broader sense, many of the characters complain about living in Oklahoma. Early in the play, Barbara makes the distinction that Oklahoma is not the Midwest but the Plains. She takes the idea one step further and jokingly compares the Plains to an illness. Later, when she is reunited with Sheriff Deon Gilbeau, she brings up the idea more seriously, telling him she is suffering from “The Plains.”
Letts presents a bleak view of this part of the country, and all three daughters struggle to break away from the place in which they were born. Barbara has left for Colorado, pointing out to her mother that he makes twice as much money as he did teaching in Oklahoma. Karen has moved numerous times, and is currently living in Miami. Ivy is the sister left behind, and she seeks to escape to New York City with Little Charles. Ivy is most clearly aware of the stakes for her departure because she has seen the dead-end her life has taken.
The Weston sisters are not only trying to escape Oklahoma, they are also trying to escape their parents’ house. Letts includes very specific stage directions about the condition of the house, and how it transforms over the course of the play. At the opening, the house is closed off, filthy, and frozen in time. As the story progresses, the house improves because of two key characters: Johnna and Barbara. When Beverly hires Johnna at the beginning of the play, he gives her the power to transform the Weston household. Under her guidance, the house becomes cleaner and more organized. Regular meals replace the sandwiches and crackers that Violet and Beverly used to eat. The next level of transformation happens through Barbara. Her husband organizes the family’s financial affairs while Barbara attempts rid the house of drugs and detoxify her mother. Without Barbara and Johnna, the Weston house (and Violet herself) would fall further and further...
(The entire section is 819 words.)