August: Osage County

August: Osage County Literary Elements





Setting and Context

Pawhuska, Oklahoma, August 2007

Narrator and Point of View

No narrator

Tone and Mood

Tragic, Comic, Dramatic, Family Drama, Outrageous

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Barbara. Antagonist: Violet

Major Conflict

Beverly Weston, the family's patriarch, has gone missing and Violet has called her family home to be with her while the police search for him. When the body is found, the conflict becomes the family's methods for grappling with Violet's addiction and abusive behavior.


The first climax occurs when Beverly's body is found drowned in a lake. The final climax is when Violet reveals to Barbara that she didn't prevent Beverly's suicide even though she knew he was considering taking his life.


Steve's creepy behavior towards Jean foreshadows his eventual sexual dalliance with her. Beverly's monologue about Violet's pill addiction and his obsession with suicidal poets foreshadows both his suicide and Violet's violence.


Violet understates the fact that she knew where Beverly was the night he killed himself.


T.S. Eliot, Hart Crane, John Berryman, Cheyenne culture, classic films, Jean Seberg.


The house itself is a striking image, especially when it is cleaned up and the shades are taken down.


Violet calls all of her family home to be with her while she waits for Beverly's return. Paradoxically, she knows that he is dead.


The use of T.S. Eliot's poetry in the beginning by Beverly is paralleled in the final scene as Johnna recites a T.S. Eliot poem to Violet.


Use of Dramatic Devices

Letts uses a prologue to establish Beverly's propensity for the damaged and to allow the audience to glimpse into his and Violet's life.