Buried Child

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Rain Symbol Icon

The torrential rain in Buried Child signifies the cleansing of the shame and guilt that hangs over the family. Only in act three, when the family’s secret infanticide is revealed, does the rain cease. In addition, the rain allows the long-dead crops grow, suggesting that as Dodge becomes able to admit his guilt, the family can finally experience some sort of peace or renewal.

Rain Quotes in Buried Child

The Buried Child quotes below all refer to the symbol of Rain. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Buried Child published in 2006.
Act 1 Quotes

Things keep happening while you’re upstairs, ya know. The world doesn’t stop just because you’re upstairs. Corn keeps growing. Rain keeps raining.

Related Characters: Dodge (speaker), Halie
Related Symbols: Rain, Vegetables
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

This complex statement, which comes in a conversation about whether or not there is corn growing in the backyard, gives the audience a sense of the contested reality the family is living in. Tilden, the family member most haunted by their secret, has always been able to see the corn growing in the back yard, and he continues to bring it inside throughout the play. Dodge has previously said to Tilden that there is no corn outside, but here, speaking to Halie, he claims that there is. Halie claims that she can see the backyard from upstairs and there is no corn. Symbolically, this has to do with each family member's willingness to admit to the existence of the murdered child. Halie is in complete denial, while Dodge is willing to reference the child at times when it is convenient for him (in other words, in order to taunt or gain power over other family members) but not at other times, so it makes sense that his statements about the corn are contradictory. Tilden, who makes the family aware of the corn in the first place, is the character for whom it seems most crucial to bring the secret out in the open, and he is the one who, at the end, literally exhumes the body. The imagery of the corn growing and the rain coming down also relates to the process of bringing forward the family secret. The rain and the corn give a sense of possibility for the family, of potential cleansing and renewal if everyone can acknowledge the truth of what happened.

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Act 3 Quotes

Good hard rain. Takes everything straight down deep to the roots. The rest takes care of itself. You can’t force a thing to grow. You can’t interfere with it. It’s all hidden. It’s all unseen. You just gotta wait til it pops up out of the ground. Tiny little shoot. Tiny little white shoot. All hairy and fragile. Strong though. Strong enough to break the earth even. It’s a miracle, Dodge. I’ve never seen a crop like this in my whole life. Maybe it’s the sun. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s the sun.

Related Characters: Halie (speaker), Dodge
Related Symbols: Rain, Vegetables
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

This is the passage that concludes the play, and, for a work of such dark and fatalistic themes, it is a surprisingly optimistic conclusion. By this point the family secret is out in the open (partially marked by each family member's sudden ability to see the vegetables growing in the backyard). As Halie speaks this monologue, Tilden comes onstage carrying the bones of the buried child, which he has apparently dug up from the yard. Though it is grotesque imagery, the return of the body to the house symbolizes a restoration of honesty for the family, and the end of a secret that has created torment and suffering for a long time. That Halie, the character most wedded to the family's illusions about itself, gives this optimistic monologue about life and rebirth suggests to the audience that the family is benefiting from having finally dealt with the trauma of their past. 

Throughout the play the vegetables growing in the yard have represented the family's secrets, and the rain has represented the relentless pressure to bring the secrets into the open. With the sun shining and the family realizing that the yard is fertile once again, the audience is left to conclude that some real progress has been made. 

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Rain Symbol Timeline in Buried Child

The timeline below shows where the symbol Rain appears in Buried Child. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
On a rainy day in rural Illinois in 1978, Dodge, a sickly man in his late seventies, sits... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...him from upstairs, suggesting that Dodge take some medicine. From upstairs, Halie describes the torrential rain outside and blames it for Dodge’s ills. Dodge ignores her, takes another drink, and lights... (full context)
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
Tilden, a “profoundly burned out and displaced” man in his forties, enters, wet with rain and holding an armful of freshly picked corn. He simply stares at Dodge as Dodge’s... (full context)
Act 2
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
That night, the rain continues. The mess from act one is gone from the living room, and Dodge is... (full context)
Act 3
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
The next morning, the rain has stopped and sun shines into the living room. Bradley sleeps on the couch, his... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...small child. He ascends the stairs towards Halie as we hear her considering aloud the rain and the sun, and how they make the plants grow. (full context)