Symbolism in Sam Shepard's drama Curse of the starving class

APPROVMENT
SYMBOL IN SAM SHEPARD’S DRAMA “CURSE OF THE STARVING
CLASS”

A Thesis
Submitted to the Letters and Humanities Faculty
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of Strata I (S1)

BY
AHMAD FUADI
0026018646

Approved by
Advisor

M. SUPARDI, M. Hum

ENGLISH LETTERS DEPARTMENT
LETTERS AND HUMANITIES FACULTY
STATE ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY SYARIF HIDAYATULLAH
JAKARTA
2010

1

THE APPROVAL SHEET OF BOARD EXAMINERS

A paper entitle Symbolism in Sam Shepard’s Drama “Curs of the Starving
Class” was examined by Examination Board of Faculty of Letters and Humanities
State Islamic University (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta on 2 February 2010 It
has been accepted as a partial fulfillment of the requirements for acquiring the
degree of Strata I (S1) in English Department

Jakarta, 2 February 2010

Board of Examiner

Chief,

Secretary,

Dr. M. Farkhan, M.Pd
NIP. 150 299 480

Drs. A. Sefuddin, M. Pd
NIP. 150 261 902

Examiners

Dr. M. Farkhan, M.Pd
NIP. 150 299 480

Drs. A. Sefuddin, M. Pd
NIP. 150 261 902

ABSTRACT

AHMAD FUADI. Symbolism in Sam Shepard Drama “Curse of the
Starving Class” thesis. English Letters Department. Letters and Humanities
Faculty, State Islamic University (UIN) “Syarif Hidayatullah” Jakarta, 2010.
The objective of this study is to find out the use of symbol in Sam
Shepard’s drama. This study applied library research and the compiled data were
analyzed through descriptive analysis method. This method tried to find, describe,
explain and analyze of symbols by using semiotics theory by Roland Barthes. The
unit of analysis of this research was Sam Shepard drama “Curse of the Starving
Class” by Sam Shepard. It was chosen because it was containing symbols.
For the semiotic analysis, the writer marked the data by choosing a literary
work; the literary work is Sam Shepard drama that written by Sam Shepard;
reading the text of play intensely, and classifying the data that were containing the
symbols; categorizing that symbols, so that could understood each other; in
categorizing all data the researcher put them in the table by synchronizing each
symbol with each objects, events, or action; and interpreting the meaning of that
symbols.
After analyzing the symbol, it could be concluded that each symbol is
containing of different meaning and function. And these differences had given the
different ideas.
From the semiotic analysis of symbol in drama of Curse of the Starving
Class. Sam Shepard would like to convey the ideas about materialism, search for
identity, and lack of figure.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. All praise is to Allah,
king of the king, lord of the world who has bestowed upon the writer completing
this paper and who has given him the brain to think, the eyes to see, the ears to
hear, the hands to write, and the tongue to speak. With all His mercies, the writer
can do and utilize parts of body to worship Him and try to be the best creature
with belief and knowledge. Beside that, the writer can also finis this paper as well
as possible. Peace and blessing be upon to the prophet Muhammad saw the last
messenger in the world who has brought us from the darkness to the lightness,
from
Many thanks is given to the Dean, H. Abdul Chair, Dr. all the lectures and
staff of the English Department of the Faculty of Letters and Humanities,
especially to Muhammad Farkhan, Dr. M.Pd., and A. Saefuddin, Drs. M.Pd., as
the Head and the Secretary of the English Department, and to the writer’s advisor,
Supardi, SS. Who always gives his time, guidance, counsel, contribution,
kindness, and patience in reading, correcting, and helping the writer from
beginning to the end of this paper.
And the writer expresses his gratitude to all people who helped him in
passing the process of finishing and carrying out this paper. Particularly, hi gives
his grateful to the beloved mother, (Alm) Hajj. Rohimah, a mother without tired

and despair to take care all her daughters and the son; may Allah forgive her sin
and her trespass father, HM. Mista Suhanda, Drs. who always struggles to
maintain his family’s lives and encourages him to do and be the best, without his
courage,
For all motivations and supports, the writer also gives his gratitude to all
friends in the English Department who have been together in sadness and
happiness. May Allah blesses us and listens our pray wherever and whenever.
Finally, the writer expects any suggestion and constructive critics to this
paper to be better and be best. And he realizes that he is nothing just a man with
many mistake and weakness.

Jakarta, February…….. 2010

Writer

TABLE CONTENTS

ABSTRACT
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT .........................................................................

i

TABLE OF CONTENT .............................................................................

iii

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

INTRODUCTION
A. Background of Study .................................................

1

B. Focus and Limitation of Study ...................................

4

C. Research Questions ...................................................

5

D. The Goal of Study .....................................................

5

E. Significances of Study ...............................................

5

F. Methodology of Research ..........................................

6

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
A. Definition of Prose……………………………………

8

B. Definition of Poetry…………………………………..

8

C. Definition of Drama…………………………………..

10

D. Definition of Semiotics ..............................................

12

E. Theory of Sign ...........................................................

15

F. Recognizing Symbols ................................................

17

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

G. Meaning of Symbol ...................................................

18

H. Literary Symbols .......................................................

20

I. Theory of Symbol of Roland Barthes…………………

21

RESEARCH FINDINGS
A. Data Description .......................................................

27

B. Data Analysis ............................................................

36

CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION
A. Conclusion ................................................................

52

B. Suggestion .................................................................

54

BIBLIOGRAPHY
APPENDIX
Synopsis of Drama ‘curse of the Starving Class’……………………………..

i

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

A. Background of Study
Literature is a performance in words. It strongly holds our attention,
seeming complete itself; it is not primarily regarded as a source of factual
information; it offers a unique delight or satisfaction.1 Furthermore, literature does
not only have common-written characterization, but also it offers satisfaction for
literature-lover. This is the reason why a reader does not only comprehend and
understand the text of literary-work, but a reader is also can get the benefit from
the literature if they are analyzed thoroughly, as literature has vast-sense. A reader
can overcome the obstacles in his life after reading it, because, most of literary
works reflects the real life in society. A literary-work is not restricted by certain
rule that can shackle its space. A literary-lover can interpret sense of literary work
from the science or the knowledge he or she has known before.
Literature is the process of writing system of a language or we call written
language. Poetry, prose, and drama are three kinds of written language; but in this
research, the writer only wants to discuss the drama as one kind of it.
Drama as a kind of literary work may express the author’s thinking,
feeling or attitude, and wish through the language, such language is not ordinary

1

Barnet, Sylvan, Norton, Berman and William, Burton, An Introduction to
Literature. (USA: Little Brown and Company Inc. 1963), p. 1.

language, but it contains of particular language; the language contains sign or
symbol.
It would be difficult to imagine someone who is not interested in
communication; someone who, for one reason or another was never engaged in
investigating the nature of specific message or even the nature of message in
general. Such a person would be someone who had failed to ponder how children
learn to use language, how pets and animals indicate their desire, how long the
gap is between lightning and a thunderclap, how difficult it is to understand
computer manuals, how the heart beats faster in situations of fright, how music
can be shooting, how people can be placed socially and regionally by their
accents, how some actors are accomplished in the theatre but unsuited to films (or
vice versa), how certain foods begin to smell after a period of decay, how internet
search engines invariably offer barely relevant information, how tabloid
newspaper are different from broadsheet one.
In short, it would be a person who is not concerned with the working of
signs; and the length and diversity of his relatively short list should give an
indication of the impossible of such a person’ s existence. Indubitably, the nature
of sings has commonly been conducted through a distorting human lens. In these
instances, signs have been considered to be connected to the human capacity for
language and ensuing cultural product, with the bias toward the verbal.2

2

Paul Cobley, the Routledge Companion to Semiotics and Linguistic, (London
and New York: Routledge Inc. 2001), p. 3.

From the list of human problem as preceded above, we understand the
important of sign we used it in our daily communication or in the study of
literature, such as in the study of poetry, drama and prose.
Sign and symbol used in drama, are usually containing of meaning and
function. This meaning and function are usually unclearly and bias. So, the drama
as a kind of literary work has to express that bias to be clear. Finally, we don’t
find again misinterpretation toward the meaning and function of sign or symbol.
Sam Shepard was one of American dramatist who used symbols, images,
and myth in his dramas. He was born Samuel Shepard Rogers in Fort Sheridan,
Illinois, on 5 November 1943 to Samuel Shepard and Elaine Schook Rogers.3
After his father left the service, he moved with his family to South Pasadena,
California, where he became interested in theatre while in high school, as he said:
“I hardly knew anything about the theatre-I remember once in California I went
to this guy’s house who was called a beatnik by everybody in the school because
he had a beard and he wore sandals…and he sort of shuffled over to me and
threw this book on my lap and said, ‘Why don’t you dig this,’ you know…it was
Waiting for Godot.”4 Shepard enrolled in Mount Antonio Junior College, but
stayed only one year. He was an American dramatist writing today whose evoke a
new sense of space in drama, because he can transfers the values of the American
society and its ideal into the emotional landscapes of his plays.5
3

Deborah A Straub, Contemporary Authors, (Michigan: Gale Research
Company, 1988), p. 442.
4
John MacNicholas, Dictionary of Literary Biography vol. 7: Twentieth
American Dramatists, (Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1981), p. 232.
5
Bonnie Marranca, Theatrewritings, (United States of America: Library of
Congress Catalog, 1984), p. 28.

One of the reasons for Shepard’s popularity as a playwright was that his
unique blend of styles-using mythical American heroes, rock and roll music,
poetically unconventional language- and his ability to create vivid dreamlike
images and symbols that set him apart from more traditional American
playwrights. He was also famous with his plays that won more than two Obie
awards and the Pulitzer Prize of Drama; which ‘Curse of starving Class’ as one of
them.
In drama ‘Curse of Starving Class’ Shepard used the symbol to make his
plays more realistic. The use of symbol in the play was symbolizing any kind of
aspect of life in the family, love, relationship, choices, images, characters of
people.
Based on the statements above, the writer here is trying to interpret the
drama, more specifically the use of symbol in drama ‘Curse of the Starving
Class.’ Therefore, the writer plans to do an analysis under the title: Symbolism in
Sam Shepard’s drama “Curse of the Starving Class”.

B. Focus of the Study
As it has been mentioned in the Background of Study, the writer would
like to focus the discussion only to the use of symbols in ‘Curse of the Starving
Class’ and the meaning of symbols in the drama. This drama had been chosen by
the researcher because this drama contain symbol, the researcher was interesting
to know the meaning of symbols in the drama.

C. Research Questions
The questions of the research are:
1. What symbols does Sam Shepard utilize in his drama “Curse of the
Starving Class’?
2. What are the meanings of the utilized symbols in drama ‘Curse of the
Starving Class’?

D. The Objectives of the Research
The objectives of this research are:
1. To know the utilized symbols in Sam Shepard drama Curse of the Starving
Class.
2. To know the meaning of the utilized symbols in Sam Shepard drama
Curse of the Starving Class.

E. The Significances of the Research
With this existence of this research, the writer hopes that it will be
profitable and beneficial for the readers especially the ones who have interest in
analyzing symbol in drama. Meanwhile, the writer also wishes to understand and
trace the implicit meaning of symbol in Sam Shepard’s drama “Curse of the
Starving Class”.

F. Methodology of Research
1. Method
In this research, the writer used descriptive analysis method in analyzing
the drama Curse of the Starving Class by Richard Gilman which contains
symbols, with making table of symbols and analyzing the meaning of
symbols in the drama, by using the semiotic approach. The data might be
selected, interpreted, and concluded.
2. Research Instrument
The research is the writer himself as an instrument and the subject of this
study is the most commonly used one; he gets all information by reading
some books and other references.
3. Unit of Analysis
Unit of analysis in this research is the text of drama “Curse of the Starving
Class”; it was taken from a book “Sam Shepard, Curse of the Starving
Class: A Play in Three Acts, New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1976.
This drama was containing of symbols that should be searched and
analyzed by the researcher.
4. Data Analysis
All the data that have been included in this research are qualitative data.
There are four ways that have to be noticed by the writer in analyzing the

data, (1) choosing literary work which contain of symbol; the literary work
is Sam Shepard’s drama Curse of the Starving Class, (2) reading the text
of drama intensely, and classify the data which contain of symbol, (3)
categorizing the symbol, so that can be understood each other; in
categorizing the data the researcher put them in the table by synchronizing
the symbol with the text of drama (4) interpreting the meaning of symbols
by using semiotic theory.
5. Place and Time
This research was done when the writer was studying at the end of twelfth
semester 2006/2007 in English Letters Department, Letters and
Humanities Faculty, State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta.
All materials are taken from libraries, such as University of Indonesia,
University of Atmajaya, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University and
other libraries that can give information about the material.

CHAPTER II
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

A. Definition of Prose
Prose is ordinary language that people use in writing such as poetry,
stories, editorials, books, etc. The word prose is derived from the Latin word
'prosa' meaning ‘straightforward’.
Prose comes in two types of text - narrative and expository. Narrative text
is defined as "something that is narrated such as a story. Expository text is nonfiction reading material such as Description, Analysis, Classification etc.

B. Definition of Poetry
Poetry (from the Greek "

", poiesis, a "making") is a form of literary

art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition
to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning. Poetry may be written independently, as
discrete poems, or may occur in conjunction with other arts, as in poetic drama,
hymns, lyrics, or prose poetry. Poetry is published in dedicated magazines (the
longest established being Poetry and Oxford Poetry), e-zines, individual
collections and wider anthologies, although it is rare to see anything other than
lyric poetry outside of collections.
Poetry, and discussions of it, have a long history. Early attempts to define
poetry, such as Aristotle's Poetics, focused on the uses of speech in rhetoric,
drama, song, and comedy. Later attempts concentrated on features such as

8

repetition, verse form and rhyme, and emphasized the aesthetics which distinguish
poetry from prose. From the mid-20th century, poetry has sometimes been more
loosely defined as a fundamental creative act using language. Digital poetry is a
modern form.
Poetry is language with musical elements. Some experts maintain that
poetry must contain such literary elements as metaphor and simile. Others stress
rhythm and rhyme as the most essential parts of poetry. As with art itself, the
definition of poetry is under constant debate. To shed some light on the subject,
let's explore the history, function, types and features of poetry, and take a look at
some misconceptions. Poetry often uses particular forms and conventions to
suggest alternative meanings in the words, or to evoke emotional or sensual
responses. Devices such as assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and rhythm are
sometimes used to achieve musical or incantatory effects. The use of ambiguity,
symbolism, irony, and other stylistic elements of poetic diction often leaves a
poem open to multiple interpretations. Similarly, metaphor, simile, and metonymy
create a resonance between otherwise disparate images a layering of meanings,
forming connections previously not perceived. Kindred forms of resonance may
exist, between individual verses, in their patterns of rhyme or rhythm.
Some forms of poetry are specific to particular cultures and genres,
responding to the characteristics of the language in which the poet writes. While
readers accustomed to identifying poetry with Dante, Goethe, Mickiewicz and
Rumi may think of it as being written in rhyming lines and regular meter, there
are traditions, such as Biblical poetry, that use other approaches to achieve rhythm

and euphony. Much of modern British and American poetry is to some extent a
critique of poetic tradition, playing with and testing (among other things) the
principle of euphony itself, to the extent that sometimes it deliberately does not
rhyme or keep to set rhythms at all. In today's globalized world poets often
borrow styles, techniques and forms from diverse cultures and languages.
Great poems differ from others exactly because of these, since their words
invoke thoughts and powerful feelings in the listener or reader. Some poets, like
the Hungarian József Attila, wrote exceptional poems with words combined in
sentences that achieve meaning greater than the sum of the meanings of the
words. Some of these became sayings in the everyday language. Across time and
cultures the meanings of the words change, and make it difficult to enjoy the
original beauty and power of poems.

C. Definition of Drama
Generally speaking, drama is a performance played by actors to speak
about the written text. In complete definition, drama is the art of telling a story
through the speech and actions of actors. To the ancient Greeks, the word drama
means doing or action. Nowadays, drama means the words that have been written
down to be spoken and acted in play. Drama is intended to express a meaning, to
create a feeling or impression.6
The classification of drama such as comedy, farce, and tragedy, is really
general terms to guide us in our understanding of a play. These terms can also
6

The World Book Encyclopedia Vol. IV, (London: Field Enterprises Education
Corporation, 1996), p. 206.

describe the drama or other theatrical forms such as opera or ballet. There are four
kinds of drama: tragedy, comedy, tragic-comedy, and melodrama. The first type
of drama, tragedy, is associated with a sad and death story with the death of
protagonist character. According to Aristotle, it is the imitation of an action of
high importance, complete and of some amplitude; in language enhanced by
distinct and varying beauties; acted not narrated and with incidents arousing pity
and fear.7 Tragedy involves events which climax the story in unhappy disaster. It
is probably the earliest form of art, and the one that deals with the most serious
themes. Tragedy focuses on man’s struggle against hopeless odds. The struggle
can be against the forces of destiny, society, or any other elements that place man
in an exposed and doomed position. In tragedy, man can not hope to win, but in
his attempts to stand up to his odds, he gains greatness.
Comedy deals with the lighter side of life. Tragedy examines the eternal
questions that a man faces during his life and shows how he tries to answer these
questions, whereas comedy is rooted more in the events of our daily lives, such as
the way humans live together in communities. Many dramatists use comedy
scenes in tragedies to lessen the seriousness of the tragedy, as well as to highlight
the seriousness of the tragedy’s main theme.
Tragic-comedy, is a mingle of tragedy and comedy. Shakespeare did this
collaboration when he arisen the tragedy in farce and arisen farce in tragedy in
Anthony and Cleopatra. As Barrows has stated: “This third form resembles
tragedy in making use of a temporarily serious action and in raising one of the
Ralph H. Singleton and Stanton Millet, An Introduction to Literature, (New
York: The World Publishing Company, 1966), p. 545.

tragic powers, and fear. It resembles comedy by employing comic situations and
characters and by an ending that resembles of a comedy.”8
Melodrama was developed as a theatrical form in the late 1700s in Europe.
Early melodrama consisted of plays that used music in their action. In these plays,
when the actor was silent, musicians played music to describe the actor’s thoughts
or mood. Melodrama develops a distinctive type of plot involving suffering,
dangerous adventures, villainy, and false accused heroes fighting for their honor.
The plot usually deals with a man or a woman who is in a difficult or dangerous
situation because of the villain’s actions. The hero is usually triumphant in the end
and the villain is punished.
When writing the stories of the drama, writers’ aim is to say as much as
possible with the briefest as possible. This doesn’t imply that most good stories
are brief. It indicates that only nothing is wasted and that each word and detail is
selected for maximum effectiveness. Writers choose the details and incidents that
contribute most to the meaning they are after; they omit those whose usefulness is
minimal. As far as possible they choose details that are multi-valued that serve a
variety of purposes at once. Doing so, they use symbols and allegory.

D. Definition of Semiotics
Semiotics is usually defined as a general philosophical theory dealing with
the production of signs and symbols as part of code systems which are used to
communicate information. Semiotics includes visual and verbal as well as tactile

8

Herbert Barrows, et al. Introduction to Literature, (Massachusetts: The
Riverside Press. 1959), p. 345.

and olfactory signs (all signs or signals which are accessible to and can be
perceived by all our senses) as they form code systems which systematically
communicate information or massages in literary every field of human behaviors
and enterprise.
The term of semiotic is derived from the Greek word semeion denoting
sign. In modern usage the concept of semiotics refers to a theory of signification. 9
Semiotic is the study of sign and symbols and their meaning and use,
especially in the writing, or method to analyze the sign.10 According to Barthes,
‘Semiology’ or ‘semiotics’ has any signs system as its research object, not only in
substantial forms but also in non-substantial forms such as pictures, behavior,
melodious sound, concrete objects, and complicated substances found in rites,
protocols or performances. In fact, all of them constitute signs system.11 Barthes
actually said, the semiotic basically want to discuss how human signify things. So
in this study the signs are tolls we used in seeking the way around the human.
Semiotic tries to explain combination of sign; systematically explains the
essential, character, form of sign, and the process of its signification. Semiotic
gives big attention to everything that can be esteemed as a sign. One sign is
everything can be used as a signifier that has the important meaning to substitute
something else. That something must no exist or that sign obviously exist in the
place at particular time.

9

Bronwen Martin and Felizitas Ringham, Dictionary of Semiotics, (London and
New York: CASSEL, 2000), p. 1.
10
Alex Sobur M.Si. Semiotika Komunikasi, (Bandung: Remaja Rosda Karya,
2003), p. 15.
Sunardi, Semiotika Negativa, (Yogyakarta: Kanal, 2002), p. 45.

Basically semiotic divided into two kinds: ‘semiotic communication’ and
‘semiotic significant'. The first is the theory if sign production which one assumes
the fifth factors in communication: sender, receiver, message, media, and
reference. So, actually, the ‘semiotic communication’ depends on the goals of
communication. But, the semiotic significant is in contrary with. ‘The semiotic
significant’ is not discussed about the goals of communication; understanding
toward the sign is more important.
The semiotic significant is usually used in poems, drama, or prose. Here,
the readers have to understand by themselves about the meaning of symbol or sign
used by author in his literary work.
Semiotic significant, in this term, gives big attention to the systematic
relation between signs and, the role of combining (code), and the concepts
(signified) related to that significant. Code is a set of rule or convention within the
Signs can be combined, so enable the massages are being communicated from one
to another
And then what is the semiotic approach? How does it work? semiotics
takes as its fundamental premise that there can be no meaning without difference
.there can be no ‘up’ without ‘down’, no ‘hot’ without ‘cold’, no ‘good’ without
‘evil’. As Greimas says, “We perceive differences and thanks to that perception,
the world ‘takes Shape’ in front of us, and for our purposes.”12
There are four basic principles on which the semiotic analysis of text is based:

12

Bronwen martin and Felizitas Ringham. Op. cit., p. 7.

1. Meaning is not inherent in object, object does not signify by them.
Meaning, rather, is constructed by what is known as a competent observer,
i.e. by a subject capable of ‘giving form’ to objects.
2. Semiotic views the text, any text, as an autonomous unit, that is, one that is
internally coherent. Semiotic analysis begins with a study of the actual
language and structures of the text, showing how meaning is constructed
and, of course, at the same time what these meaning are.
3. Semiotic posits that story structure or narrative underlines all discourse,
not just what is commonly known as a story. For instance, it underlines
political, sociological, and legal discourse.
4. Semiotic posits the notion of level of meaning.

C. Theory of Sign
Sign and symbol are important concepts to understand in discussing
literature. Even experts define and use them in different ways.
A sign is anything that stands for something else. A sign represents
something—an idea, an experience, a feeling, an object, etc. Words as ordinarily
used are signs in this sense. The object referred to by a sign does not need to be
present for the meaning of the sign to be understood. Context helps define the
specific meaning of a sign. The word ‘tree’ generally stands for a large class of
plants; if we say, "Look at that tree," we are designating a specific meaning for the
word.

A sign has literal meaning; that is, its meaning is simple and
straightforward, a matter of conventional agreement among people who use that
particular sign.
A symbol has complex meaning; it has not only "literal" meaning, but also
additional meaning(s) beyond the literal. Sometimes the literal meaning of a
symbol is absurd, so that the symbolic meaning over-rides and cancels out the
literal meaning. A symbol may have more than one meaning. In fact, the most
significant symbols do convey an indefinite range of meanings.
In the context of Christian symbolism, a tree can refer to the cross on
which Jesus was crucified. Thus, in the right context, a tree can suggest a much
wider range of meaning than its simple, literal meaning.
Symbols with fairly fixed meanings can be used as ciphers; that is, the
symbols can be arranged to encode a meaning that only someone who understands
the cipher system can decode. (Symbols used in this way are not really signs
because the literal meaning is not intended; the reader is supposed to decipher the
symbolic meaning). In using symbols in this manner, the author has a clear "story"
(set of ideas) already in mind; the author simply transposes that pre-existing story
item by item into a symbolic system, matching each element in the story with an
appropriate cipher. The reader then decodes the cipher by transposing back into
the original meaning.
Symbols may have very narrow or quite wide ranges of meaning. The
range may be limited to an individual, or perhaps to a small group. People other
than the individual or group will not understand that meaning of the symbol. A

symbol's range may be cultural, meaning that it is known by members of cultural
groups: ethnic groups, religious groups, national groups, and so on.
Some people believe that some symbols have a universal range of
meaning; that is, like C. G. Jung, they believe that some symbols occur with the
same meaning across individual and cultural boundaries. These universal symbols
are often called archetypes, especially by followers of Jung. While there is much
evidence to support the existence of universal symbols, or archetypes, one must
remember that any use of a symbol is specific, and that makes its meaning
specific. Just as the word "tree" used in a sentence has a specific meaning, rather
than the general meaning given in the dictionary, so an archetype used in a work
of art has specific meanings, rather than a general meaning one might find in a
dictionary of archetypes.

D. Recognizing Symbols
When is a clock just a clock, and when is it also a symbol with a meaning
or meanings beyond its literal significance? If a character waiting for a friend once
glances at his or her watch to verify the time, there may be nothing symbolic
about the watch or about the act of looking at it. If, however, the watch keeps
appearing again and again in the story, at key moments; if the narrator devotes a
good deal of time to describing it; if it is placed in a conspicuous physical
location; if characters keep noticing it and commenting on its presence; if it lost
(or found) at a critical moment; if its function in some way parallels the
development of plot or character (for instance, if it stops as a relationship ends or

as a character dies); if the story's opening or closing paragraph focuses on the
timepiece; or if the story is called "The Watch"- the watch probably has some
symbolic value. In other words, considering how an image is used, how often it is
used, and when it appears will help the readers to determine whether or not it
functions as a symbol.13

E. Meanings of Symbols
To find the meaning of symbols or allegories appear in a literature work or
play is not an easy task. And also to find the meanings of symbols in Curse of the
Starving drama, reading from the drama alone will not be sufficient. What
happened during the period of writing may influence the productions of the
drama. The way of life of American people, its government system, and so on,
must also be understood well, when we try to understand the drama better.
Symbol is the arbitrary and conventional linguistics element substitutes the
relation of object and its signification. Words, sentences, and signs are the kinds
of symbol.
A symbol may have more than one meaning. It may suggest a cluster of
meanings. At its most effective a symbol is like a many-sided jewel: it flashes
different colors when turned in the light. This is not to say that it can mean
anything we want it too: the area of possible meaning is always controlled by the
context. Nevertheless, this possibility of complex meaning, plus concreteness and
emotional power, gives the symbol its peculiar compressive value.
13

Laurie G. Kirszner & Stephen R. Mandell, Literature Reading Reacting
Writing (Florida: Hotl, Rinehart and Winston Inc., 1991), p. 250.

According to Romantics' view, if one wishes to reach the original, pure
meaning of the work of art (including drama), one has to go beyond the product,
beyond the object itself, back into the 'state of mind' in which the artist's vision. It
is due to the artist represented the human individual at his best, the human spirit at
its highest reaches. And as for the substance of artistic work, all begins with a
state of mind and ends with a work of art as the product. Therefore, exploring the
mind of the author is necessary according to this view.14
There are factors that establish the limits of meaning. Several possibilities
suggest themselves with regard to this question: authors, audience, context,
society, language, and the text itself.15 1) Author. Nothing would appear more
obvious that the author determines the meaning of a text. Indeed, because the
author creates the text, it must be the author who determines the boundaries of its
meaning. After all, the author selects and arranges the signs of which a text is
composed to convey a specific meaning to an audience. 2). Audience. If the
author does not determine the meaning of the text, then it could be the audience
that does so. Often audiences know better the meaning of a text than the historical
authors, and this could be explained by saying that they do because they
determine the meaning. 3). Context. It could also be regarded as what determining
the meaning of text. 4). Society. Society may also be considered as the
determining factors of the limits of the meaning of the text. After all, society at
large is responsible for the development of the signs that compose non-stipulate
14

Zygmunt Bauman, Hermeneutics and Social Science, (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1978), p. 25.
15
Jorge 1. E. Gracia, a Theory of Textuality, (New York: State University of New
York Press, 1995), p. 114.

texts and the rules that govern the arrangements of those signs. 5) Language. A
language seems virtually to contain in it all the possible texts and their meanings
that can be expressed in that language. 6). Text. One of the most prevalent views
on this matter nowadays is that the limits on the meaning of texts are exclusively
imposed by the texts themselves. 7) Cultural function. A key element that has not
been mentioned is the cultural function that the text has, for the function of the
text as determined by the culture in which the text is produced. A culture, then,
understood as a community of persons who share certain values, beliefs, and rules
of behavior, determines the function of texts and those functions in turn establish
the overall parameters of meaning.

F. Literary Symbols
A literary symbol is something that means more than what it is. It's an
object, a person, a situation, an action, or some item that has literal meaning in the
story but suggests or represents other meanings as well. A very simple illustration
is to be found in name symbolism. Most names are simply labels. Seldom does a
name tell anything about the person to whom it is attached, except possibly the
individuals nationally. In a story, however, authors may choose names for their
characters that serve not only to label them but also to suggest something about
them.
More important than symbolism of name is the symbolic use of objects
and actions. Some symbols will fit so naturally into the literal context that their
symbolic value will not at first be apparent except to the most perceptive reader.

In other stories usually stories with a less realistic surface they will be so central
and so obvious that they will demand symbolical interpretation if the story is to
yield significant meaning. In the first kind of story the symbols reinforce and add
to the meaning. In the first story they carry the meaning.
In addition to having the same associations as conventional symbols,
literary symbols may derive additional associations through their use in a
particular literary work. Often a character, place, action, event, or object is used to
suggest multiple meaning in a particular story.16 For instance, ‘a watch’ or ‘clock’
denotes time; as a literary symbol in a particular work, it might seem to suggest
just the passing of time, or it might convey anything from a character's inability to
recapture the past to the idea of time running out - or, it might suggest more than
one of these ideas. Thinking about an object's possible meanings can suggest a
variety of ways to interpret a text.

G. Theory of Symbol of Roland Barthes
Roland Barthes was born on November 12, 1915 in the town of Cherbourg
in the Normandy. He was the son of naval officer Louis Barthes, who was killed
in a battle in the North Sea before he reached one year of his age. His mother
raised him in French city of Bayonne, the place where he received his first
exposure to culture.
According to Barthes, symbols always come in form of text or context. In
its process of existence, myth concept becomes crucial. Myth itself is not an

16

Laurie G. Kirszner & Stephen R. Mandell, Op. Cit., p. 249.

object, but it is a form of communication system in delivering messages. Myth is a
speech, so all things can be considered as a myth as long as they appear in the
context. Myth is determined by its way of delivery. Thus, myth is a message not
only in verbal form but also in other forms, such as advertisements, films,
paintings, photography, etc. in our daily life. All of them are usually used in
delivering message.17
Barthes follows the concept of semiotics of Ferdinand de Saussure, the
father of structuralism. He has stressed that semiotic is the study of linguistic
meaning which uses the sign system that is the concept of sign “signifier” and
“signified”. He makes the systematic model in analyzing the meaning of signs. He
focused his concept in “two order of signification”
First order

Second order

Connotation
Denotation

Signifer
Signified
Myth

Source: John Fiske, Introduction to Communication Studies, 1990, p. 88,
as quoted by Drs. Alex Sobur, M.Si., In the book of Analisis Teks
Media, 2004, p. 127.

Sunardi, Semiotika Negativa, (Yogyakarta: Kanal, 2002), p. 45.

Here is the diagram of Roland Barthes’s concept “two order signification.”
This diagram explains that ‘the first order or the first signification’ is rooted from
the structure of Saussure “signifier” and “signified”. It is the relationship between
signifier and signified in the sign. It means that the first order or ‘the first
signification’ is the main or the true meaning of sign. For example, we have a
concept “a yellow flag” in our mind, so the concept as a signified is shown into a
real shape or form that is ‘a flag with a yellow’ color. In this case, Roland Barthes,
the owner of this denotation which means the true meaning of sign or reality
meaning such as the example above, that is the concept of ‘a yellow flag’, it refers
to ‘a flag with yellow’ color in reality.
The second order or the second signification is ‘connotation’. Barthes
relates the first order or the first signification with the culture or custom. It
describes the interaction when the sign interacts to the emotion of reader and to
the custom and culture value which create the connotative meaning. For example,
‘a yellow flag’ in form, the true meaning of it, is only a flag with a yellow color,
and the meaning change when it is related with the culture of Indonesian people
where they define it as a death.
Normally, ‘denotation’ means the use of language to mean what it is said,
while, ‘connotation’ means the use of language to mean something else that it was
said. For instance, the word ‘black’, besides it’s contain meaning as one of the
colors, it is also associated for the Western societies with have the concept of
‘dark’, ‘devil’, ‘sinful’, and ‘dangerous’. The denotative meaning of ‘black’ is as
one of the colors that were known well to the neutral which is suitable to all

colors. The connotative meaning is the opposite with the true meaning, it related
to the Western culture that they say ‘black’ is ‘dark’, ‘devil’, ‘sinful’, and
‘dangerous’.
A concept of ‘yellow flag’ in our mind, is the concept of signifier, then, we
prove it into a real shape or form that is a flag with a yellow color, it is a
denotation means of the phrase a / yellow flag that/ is a flag with a yellow color.
But in the connotative meaning, ‘a yellow flag’ is means ‘death’, that means if
there is ‘a yellow flag’ it means ‘death’.
In the semiotic approach, it is not merely about word and images, but it is
about an object too; that can function as ‘signifier’ in production of meaning.
‘Clothes’, for example, it has a simple physical function, besides ‘to cover’ and
‘to protect’ the body from the weather. But it has two meanings; to construct
meaning and to carry the message. Like an evening dress and jeans, as the clothes,
they mean a thing to cover and to protect the body, and the clothes are ‘a
signifier’. And the meaning ‘to cover’ and ‘to protect’ is ‘the signified’. Those
clothes had two meaning; an evening dress may signify ‘elegance’ with a bow tie
and tails for man and beautiful long dress for girl, and jeans may signify
‘casualness’ with certain kind of sweater in the night time or shirt and casual
shoes. The meaning both of them as the material to cover and protect body is
called denotative meaning, while, the other meaning for them as elegance and
casualness is called connotative meaning.
Another example is ‘food’. The main meaning of food is the necessity as
the basic need for our life to survive. But food also has another meaning, it can be

seems from its function, such as an identity of class and status. One kind of food
is ‘steak’; where the main function of ‘steak’ is as ‘the basic class’ for human
being, but it has other function that can be identified as social classes; ‘poor’ and
‘rich people’.
‘Steak’ is identified to ‘rich people’ because it is one of the high class
food, we are able to recognize it from the price which is expensive, there is no
matter for rich people to buy anytime but not for poor people, they will think
twice for they have not enough money to buy it. Denotative meaning of ‘steak’ is
a basic need for human being and connotation meaning is classifying social status.
The sifting of denotative meaning to connotative meaning is influenced by
the culture. The connotative meanings for the ‘black’ color, ‘yellow flag’, ‘dress’
‘jeans’ and ‘steak’ are resulted from the local culture where those signifiers are
exist. That is why each signifier has many connotative meaning refers to the
culture’s imitation.
In the level of connotative meaning, Barthes used the new terminology for
‘signifier’, ‘signified’, and ‘sign’. The purpose is to differentiate between the
terminology that is used by structuralism and semiotic. He used the terminology
of form for ‘signifier’, the concept for ‘signified’, and signification for ‘sign’.
Those are three of the new terminologies that have same meaning with the three
terminologies of structuralism.
So, in his theory, Barthes explains that there is a shifting or self-concealing
from one symbol to another. In systematical way, Barthes explains that there are
three stages of significance or signing. First of all, denotation contains elements

of significance and signified. Secondly, primary meaning or connotation in which
both of elements is combined to become Sign. Thirdly, secondary meanings in
which both of those elements are combined to become Sign in level III.

CHAPTER III
RESEARCH FINDINGS

A. Data Description
The writer would like to present the research findings in the chart. The chart below portraits the symbolism and the symbolic
meaning with their supporting act of its symbolism.
Table 1
No. Corpus
1.

Four

Symbols

Denotative Meaning

Symbolic Meaning

Act/Page

mismatched Four mismatched Separate movable seat It symbolizes miscommunications I/135

metal chairs are set one chair.

that

at each side of the table.

each other.

incompatible

to in four members of family. They
have different point of view about
their life as a family.

Thus, it

results in constant dispute in their
family.

1
27

2.

In the down right corner Door.

A movable barrier used It is symbol of the aggressive I/135

is a pile of wooden

to open and close the elimination of spatial distinction

debris… which are the

entrance to a building, between inside

remains of a broken

room,

door.

vehicle, usually a solid (stranger). It is representation of

closet,

of

the

house

or (family) and the outside of house

panel, hinged to or the barrier between inside of house
sliding in a frame

(family) and the outside of house
(stranger).

3.

Apparatus

of

food and drinks are was shown by the inability of the

the

working

stage

are

a

refrigerator

and small gas stove…

kept cold.

in

which It is Symbol of spiritual hunger. It I/135

In the down left corner Refrigerator.

four

member

of

family

in

providing satisfaction for their

physical needs.
Ella:

(looking

in

I/137

refrigerator) there are
no eggs… (Slamming
refrigerator door…)
Emma:

goes

to

I/140

refrigerator and looks
inside…

(Slamming

refrigerator)…
Wesley:

(opening

I/143

refrigerator and staring
into it)…
…Ella turns and opens
the refrigerator…Emma:

I/149-150

Hungry?

Ella:

No.

Emma: Just habit? Ella:
What? Emma: Opening
and closing?
I/157

Weston: …He crosses to
the

refrigerator

and

opens it)… (He slams
the refrigerator door…)

4.

Ella: …Now, the first Never

go No action or no activity It is symbolizes no activity of I/139

thing is that you should swimming

of

making

never go swimming…

unsupported

progress moving.
through

water using the arms
and legs, whether for

pleasure, exercise, or
sport.

5.

Ella: …She’s only just

At

now having her first First period

occurrence

period.

menstruation.

Weston:

What’s

I/142

beginning It is symbol of a change.
of

the

matter with her?
Wesley: …She’s got her
first period.

6.

Emma: I’M TAKING
THE

HORSE...She’ll Horse.

Four-legged

animal Symbol of masculine, strength and I/144

used to carry loads, for power,

great

passion

and

get

killed

on

the

riding.

excitement.

Young of the sheep.

Symbol of sacrifice and weakness.

freeway.

7.

Wesley

enters

again

I/153

from right carrying a Lamb.
small live lamb.

8.

Wesley:
lamb)

(Staring

A carnivorous canine Symbol of duality and outward II/156

at

“Eat American Coyote.

wolf.

Lamb. Twenty million
coyotes

can’t

mammal smaller than violence (as predator)

be

wrong.”
9.

A person considered to Symbol of the social outward II/163

Wesley: It is. It’s a
zombie invasion.

Zombie.

lack

energy, violence

and

destruction

(as

enthusiasm,
ability

or

to

the predator) It is represents to Taylor
think and Ellis.

independently.

10.

Weston: I don’t need a

A piece of furniture Symbol of altar for reincarnation.

bed… (He finally gets Table.

with a flat top and one

on table so that he’s

or more legs, used for

lying flat out on it…)

placing things on or

II/169

doing things at.

11.

Weston: (to lamb as he

A large bird of prey Symbol

folds clothes)… Should I Eagle.

with a hooked beak and (capitalist system).

tell ya’ something about

broad

eagles?

hunts by day.

wingspan that

of

American

power III/182

12.

Weston: …He was after

The male gonad or It symbolizes personal power. It III/183

those testes. Those fresh Lamb’s testes

sperm-producing gland represents to Weston as a father in

little

testis usually with its the family.

remnants

of

surrounding

manlihood…

membranes.

13.

Ella:

You

A small domesticated Symbol

remember.

What happens next?
Wesley: A cat comes.

Cat.

mammal that has soft innocence.
fur,
pointed

sharp
ears,

claws,
and,

usually, a long furry
tail,

and

characteristic

makes
purring

or meowing sounds.

of

weakness

and III/200

14.

Ella: And they come Eagle
crashing down to earth. both
Both

of

them

come down.

crashing down. Like the
whole thing.

and

cat Fall or strike suddenly Both

crashing and noisily.

are

symbolizes

the

destruction of the family (society) III/200
and

government

capitalist system.

caused

by

36

C. Data Analysis

Dokumen baru

PENGARUH PENERAPAN MODEL DISKUSI TERHADAP KEMAMPUAN TES LISAN SISWA PADA MATA PELAJARAN ALQUR’AN HADIS DI MADRASAH TSANAWIYAH NEGERI TUNGGANGRI KALIDAWIR TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

104 3203 16

PENGARUH PENERAPAN MODEL DISKUSI TERHADAP KEMAMPUAN TES LISAN SISWA PADA MATA PELAJARAN ALQUR’AN HADIS DI MADRASAH TSANAWIYAH NEGERI TUNGGANGRI KALIDAWIR TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

37 806 43

PENGARUH PENERAPAN MODEL DISKUSI TERHADAP KEMAMPUAN TES LISAN SISWA PADA MATA PELAJARAN ALQUR’AN HADIS DI MADRASAH TSANAWIYAH NEGERI TUNGGANGRI KALIDAWIR TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

37 720 23

PENGARUH PENERAPAN MODEL DISKUSI TERHADAP KEMAMPUAN TES LISAN SISWA PADA MATA PELAJARAN ALQUR’AN HADIS DI MADRASAH TSANAWIYAH NEGERI TUNGGANGRI KALIDAWIR TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

16 467 24

PENGARUH PENERAPAN MODEL DISKUSI TERHADAP KEMAMPUAN TES LISAN SISWA PADA MATA PELAJARAN ALQUR’AN HADIS DI MADRASAH TSANAWIYAH NEGERI TUNGGANGRI KALIDAWIR TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

25 621 23

KREATIVITAS GURU DALAM MENGGUNAKAN SUMBER BELAJAR UNTUK MENINGKATKAN KUALITAS PEMBELAJARAN PENDIDIKAN AGAMA ISLAM DI SMPN 2 NGANTRU TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

54 1067 14

KREATIVITAS GURU DALAM MENGGUNAKAN SUMBER BELAJAR UNTUK MENINGKATKAN KUALITAS PEMBELAJARAN PENDIDIKAN AGAMA ISLAM DI SMPN 2 NGANTRU TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

55 973 50

KREATIVITAS GURU DALAM MENGGUNAKAN SUMBER BELAJAR UNTUK MENINGKATKAN KUALITAS PEMBELAJARAN PENDIDIKAN AGAMA ISLAM DI SMPN 2 NGANTRU TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

15 587 17

KREATIVITAS GURU DALAM MENGGUNAKAN SUMBER BELAJAR UNTUK MENINGKATKAN KUALITAS PEMBELAJARAN PENDIDIKAN AGAMA ISLAM DI SMPN 2 NGANTRU TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

24 856 30

KREATIVITAS GURU DALAM MENGGUNAKAN SUMBER BELAJAR UNTUK MENINGKATKAN KUALITAS PEMBELAJARAN PENDIDIKAN AGAMA ISLAM DI SMPN 2 NGANTRU TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

36 1063 23