Shepard's intention was to create a narrative which communicated and reflected the frustrations of American people but at the same time was engaging and entertaining. Set in a context which is easily recognisable, the American farming family, and centered around issues which are universal, the disillusionment with the American dream and the traditional patriarch, Buried Child reflects the universal frustrations of American people. The postmodern style which Shepard uses incorporates surrealism and symbolism in the realistic framework of a family drama. This platform allows for engaging visceral theatre. Shepard is able to create images in the imaginations of people through the use of surrealism and symbolism, evoke and harness the experiences of his audience through its postmodern nature and keep the audience comfortable in the trappings of realism.
Some critics consider it part of a Family Trilogy which includes Curse of the Starving Class (1976) and True West (1980). Others consider it part of a quintet which includes Fool for Love (1983) and A Lie of the Mind (1985).