Lone Star a Significant Theme


Both act to separate families, nations, communities, and identities. At this level the notion of border is a metaphor for transgression. Explain this concept using examples from Lone Star and from the assigned reading.

Perhaps the central transgression of the film is Sam Wade's affair with Pilar Cruz, although neither of them realized until the end that they are half-brother and half-sister, and have therefore committed incest. John Sayles did not add the complication of children resulting from this affair since Pilar's medical condition makes it impossible for her to have any more. Even so, one of his goals in Lone Star was to end "all illusions about our separations as nations, races, cultures, and classes -- thus the sanctity of borders in challenged" (Torres 122). Her mother Mercedes also transgressed racial borders with Buddy, but as always in the past this was kept completely hidden. So it was when Southern slave owners had children with the black women they owned, or with the mestizo offspring produced by the Spanish aristocrats and Conquistadores. Even the existence of these mixed-race offspring was a challenge to the strict racial hierarchies and boundaries that existed in the past, no matter that they had no power at all in the larger society.

Pilar and Sam never knew the truth about their history when they were growing up, since it was always kept hidden and unspoken. She is the stronger character, however, and has a more "solid sense of self" than Sam or most of the other Anglo characters (Torres 127). Pilar is a history teacher, as well, and does not instill the 'whitewashed' version into her student, but the reality of conquest and oppression. Wealthier and more educated than Sam, who is obviously not a traditional type of white male hero found in Western films, despite having a first name that might remind the audience of Uncle Sam or Sam Houston -- the founder and first president of the Texas Republic. In this sense, Lone Star is somewhat subversive on the traditional genre since Sam learns to "perceive how white male dominance looks from the subordinate position" (Torres 125). Sam has no intention or desire of following in Buddy's footsteps, and he is not the only character struggling against the past and attempting to find ways not to repeat the same patterns. Col. Delmore Payne, commander of the army base where Sheriff Wade's remains were discovered, also resents the fact that his own father Otis deserted the family, while his own son does not wish to follow in his footsteps by going to West Point (Lone Star Lecture Notes 2011). Whether these defections will result in fundamental change in Frontera is unknown, although they represent a white power structure that is no longer as confident and certain as it was when the country was at its apex as a global power in the 1950s and 1950s. Other forces have been challenging its dominance for thirty years, not only feminism and movements demanding minority rights, but the sheer social and economic decline of the United States, which is also visible in Rio County. Even Mercedes shows signs of defecting from the old order when she starts assisting illegal migrants in their border crossings.


Lone Star. Director: John Sayles. Producers: Columbia Pictures; Castle Rock Entertainment. USA, 1996.

Lone Star…