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Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Sand Mountain Matchmaking is largely without thematic content. The play is lightly comic throughout, with each character a well-sketched caricature of a mountain type—never condescendingly quaint, but nevertheless heartily and effectively two-dimensional. The phallic ribaldry of the spell that drives away unwanted suitors and attracts the right one continues to function throughout the major scene between Rebecca and Sam, ensuring plenty of laughs but not much thoughtfulness. Rebecca’s independence of spirit is attractive, but the play can hardly be described as a tract for women’s rights. In short, the work exists as light entertainment, without serious thematic pretensions.

It is an entirely appropriate preparation, however, for the more complex play which is to follow. Precisely by introducing mountain folkways and vocabulary in a lightly comic vein, Romulus Linney warms up his audience for the more challenging material of Why the Lord Come to Sand Mountain. Religiously conservative audiences might take offense at a Jesus portrayed convivially drinking brandy, telling tall tales, committing youthful indiscretions, and, ultimately, seeking human forgiveness. Linney prepares his audience by emphasizing the warmth, love, and playfulness of the people he is portraying.

Why the Lord Come to Sand Mountain brings the audience to the heart of Linney’s thematic concept. Above all, the play portrays with honesty and integrity the down-home people with whom Jesus presumably would have elected to spend his time had he been born in North Carolina instead of Judaea. At the same time, by emphasizing the earthly humanity of Jesus, Linney forces his...

(The entire section is 402 words.)